Holiday Hiring Update: October Seasonal Hiring Best Since 1999

Holiday hiring got off to its strongest start in 14 years, as retail employment grew by 159,500* in October, according to an analysis of the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The 159,500 net new jobs in retail last month marks a 6.7 percent increase from October 2012, when retailers increased their payrolls by 149,400.   It was the most new hires in the first month of the annual holiday hiring period since 1999, when retail employment expanded by 172,200 in October.

The strong start bodes well for a holiday hiring season that stretches from October through December, with the heaviest retail workforce additions, typically occurring in November.  Last year, the three-month hiring period resulted in 751,800 new jobs being added by retailers; the most since 2000, when retailers added 788,200 workers during the final three months of the year.

Last year’s holiday hiring binge brought retail employment in the sector to 15,538,300 in December, the month in which retail employment generally reaches its annual peak. That was the highest number of retail workers in December, since 2007, when employment reached 16,156,400.

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More Americans Quitting Their Jobs, Could Indicate Increased Confidence

REMINDER: The monthly job-cut report originally scheduled for today (October 31) is rescheduled for release on Wednesday, November 6, at 7:30am E.T.

While hiring remains subdued throughout most of the country, the latest government data show that the number of American voluntarily leaving their employers is on the rise, which, according to one employment authority, suggests that the job market is indeed improving along with job seeker confidence.

“Quit levels offer important clues about the strength of the job market.  While the government survey does not break out the reasons for these voluntary departures, the rising number of individuals willing to walk away from a job suggests that more are being lured away by other employers or that they are confident enough in their job prospects that they can leave before securing a new position,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, released monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports that of the 4,376,000 separations recorded in August, approximately 2,364,000, or just over half (54 percent), were individuals voluntarily quitting their jobs.  That was up from 2,342,000 in July and nearly 11 percent higher than the 2,139,000 job quitters recorded in August 2012.

The number of job quitters has been steadily rising since falling to a recession-low of 1,601,000 in September 2009.  In 2011, an average of 1,941,000 Americans quit their jobs each month.  By the end of 2012, the average was up to about 2,100,000 quits per month.  Through the first eight months of 2013, quit levels are averaging, 2,247,000 per month.

“The current average remains significantly below the 2,935,000 quits per month averaged over the 24-month period leading up to the recession, but it is definitely trending in the upward direction.  Meanwhile, the number of layoffs and other involuntary separations, such as being fired for cause, has been on the decline since mid-2010.  While, no one probably ever feels 100-percent secure in his or her job, these trends certainly indicate that Americans can feel more confident about their job security now versus two years ago,” said Challenger.

Quits

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics  Continue reading

Employers, Workers Face Challenges From Delayed Retirements

A just-released survey showing that more Americans age 50 and older plan to delay retirement presents some unique challenges to the nation’s employers.  In one respect, companies will benefit from these workers’ knowledge and experience, according to workplace authority John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., a global consultancy providing job search training and career coaching.  “In an era when employers are turning increasingly toward contingent or contract workers, having a stable of seasoned veterans on the payroll is vital to maintaining corporate memory.  However, there are issues related to managing a multi-generational workforce with which to contend, including the fact that these different age groups generally tend to be motivated by different factors,” said Challenger. Employers also have to be aware of the pitfalls associated with having an aging workforce that does not retire and make room for younger workers to advance within the organization.  “It is critical to have a strategy for the continued development and advancement of young talent.  If they feel like they are being held back or that they are not being challenged, they will become disengaged and either take their skills elsewhere or, worse, stick around doing the bare minimum when it comes to the quantity and quality of their output,” Challenger warned.  How should employers prepare for an aging workforce that plans to further delay retirement?  What can younger workers do to ensure they are able to advance their careers? What can older workers do to improve their chances of finding and keeping a job?

Retailers Opening Thanksgiving Day

In our annual holiday hiring forecast, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicted holiday hiring to remain flat or decline slightly from last year’s record levels.  However, even with a slight decline in overall hiring, national retail chains are expected to hire tens of thousands of seasonal workers across the country.  Indeed, retailers so far have announced plans to hire 444,000 seasonal workers, according to initial tracking by Challenger.  Much of this hiring will occur over the next three to four weeks, so that retailers have workers in place for the all-important Black Friday sales.  Some retailers have moved up Black Friday shopping from early Friday morning to late Thanksgiving Thursday night.  “Among those starting sales on Thanksgiving Day is Macy’s, which is planning to hire the most seasonal workers so far this year, with 83,000, and announced some of its stores would open at 8p.m. Thanksgiving Day.  While there was some public criticism of earlier and earlier sales, the outcry obviously did not translate to decreased traffic or else Macy’s and others that are sure to make similar announcements in the coming weeks would not be doing it again this year,” said John Challenger. “The early opening will only increase the need for temporary seasonal workers, who are likely to be the ones stuck working on Thanksgiving Day, as those with more seniority tend to get first-preference when it comes to assigning holiday hours,” noted Challenger.  Will other retailers join Macy’s in opening on Thanksgiving Day?  How might early openings impact retail employment?  What can those seeking holiday jobs do to improve their chances of finding employment?

Macy’s

83,000

Target

70,000

Amazon

70,000

Walmart

55,000

Kohl’s

53,000

Toys R Us

45,000

JCPenney

35,000

GameStop

17,000

Meijer

9,000

JoAnn’s

3,000

eBay (Louisville, KY)

2,000

Eddie Bauer (Columbus, OH)

1,200

eBay (Eau Claire, WI)

800