- UPS announced it plans to hire about 95,000 extra employees for the holiday season, the same number the shipping giant has hired for the last two holidays seasons.
- Package handlers, drivers and driver-helpers make up the majority of the full- and part-time seasonal positions, UPS said, adding that from the 2012 through 2014 holiday seasons, more than 37% of staffers hired for seasonal package handler jobs were hired into permanent positions following the holidays.
- The firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said retail hiring this holiday season is on track to be about the same as the 2015 holiday season, when employment in the sector increased by 738,800 jobs. That figure was itself 1.4% lower than the seasonal hiring number for 2014. However, hiring reportedly is on the upswing for retail jobs related to warehouses and transportation, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, evidenced by Target's plans to hire about 7,500 more employees in supply chain jobs.
It's pretty strange to hear the creation of 95,000 jobs at UPS (and 738,000 jobs across retail) cast in an almost negative way, but alas, they are only seasonal jobs, and we're apparently still pretty attached to the American economic ideal in which all things must grow every year into perpetuity.
There are a couple of observations to make here about the UPS figure, the first being potentially truer than the second. First off, UPS's holiday hiring remaining flat for a few years running could have at least a little to do with some of the technological advancements the company has made in recent years, most notably the development of its Orion software, which uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the most efficient routes for delivery vehicles, which in turn saves time and fuel and allows drivers to make more stops and deliver more packages.
What all of that could mean is that maybe UPS doesn't need as many seasonal employees, particularly manning delivery vehicles, as it once did.
The second observation is rooted in the trend noted by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in which retailers are hiring more warehouse and transportation jobs, a reflection of their growing investments in the supply chain. Could it be that this growing retailer involvement in warehousing is already putting a bit of a squeeze on the shipping and logistics companies and their own distribution center operations? Well, that is not so clear.
Still, certain retailers only will continue to increase their hiring for such jobs, and while UPS and others for now don't really acknowledge the competitive threat such moves pose, they certainly are closing monitoring these developments. No matter what, the expectation of flatness in retail holiday hiring overall compared to last year doesn't necessarily mean this holiday season will go sour. Let's not be Scrooges: 738,000 jobs is nothing to "bah" and "humbug" about. And hey, Amazon's hiring, too.