November Update: Hiring Slips After Strong October



Seasonal Hiring Numbers

 Holiday hiring, which got off to a strong start in October, dipped somewhat in November, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Today’s employment situation report showed that retail payrolls experienced non-seasonally adjusted net gain of 300,800* in November. That is down slightly from November 2009, when 318,900 retail jobs were added. However, last month’s retail hiring was still a significant improvement over 2008, when only 213,500 holiday workers were added in November.

Even with the dip in November, overall holiday hiring is up over 2009, due to solid gains in October. Retailers have added 432,600 workers since October 1, an 18 percent increase over the same period a year ago when retail employment grew by 366,700.

*The widely-reported seasonally adjusted data, which is intended to “smooth out” the volatile fluctuations of seasonal hiring, showed a net loss of 28,100 jobs in retail. Challenger uses the non-seasonally adjusted data to capture the actual holiday hiring activity.

In October, retailers added 131,800 (adjusted downward from an originally-reported figure of 150, 900). Despite the downward adjustment, the October hiring was still far stronger than a year earlier when retail employment grew by only 47,800 in the first month of the holiday hiring period (October – December).

“It appears that retailers really wanted to get an early jump on the holiday season. Many were offering heavily discounted merchandise before Black Friday. In order to make sure they were staffed for the earlier sales push, retailers ramped up hiring earlier. However, the stronger hiring in October may have resulted in more subdued employment gains last month,” said Challenger.

The good news is that retail sales have been strong so far this year. That may lead to continued hiring in December, according to Challenger. Last year, retail employment grew by nearly 135,000 in December. Since 1999, December retail gains have averaged about 183,500.

“So, even if December hires are somewhere in between the 2009 figure and the 11-year average, overall holiday hiring for the year could reach at least 550,000,” noted Challenger.

# # #

MAJOR HOLIDAY HIRING ANNOUNCEMENTS TO DATE

Macy’s 65,000

UPS 50,000

Toys R Us 45,000

Kohl’s 40,000

J.C. Penney 30,000

Best Buy 29,000

American Eagle Outfitters 15,500

Michaels Stores 10,000

Hickory Farms Inc. 4,000

Pier 1 Imports *

American Eagle Outfitters *

Borders *

Target *

Wal-mart *

*No figures have been reported, but these retailers have said that they plan to increase seasonal hiring in 2010.

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