While several large retailers have announced large-scale holiday hiring plans, employment gains in the retail sector last month were virtually unchanged from a year ago, according to an analysis of the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
The 130,100 retail job gains last month were only slightly more than the 128,900 retail jobs added in October 2011. The first month of holiday hiring both this year and last were down significantly from the 149,800 retail jobs created in October 2010.
While 2011 started slowly, retailers added another 531,300 workers in November and December for a total of 660,200 seasonal employment gains, the highest level since 2007. In 2008 — the worst holiday-hiring season in 22 years — retailers added only 38,600 seasonal workers in October and only 324,000 total workers during entire holiday season of October through December.
“November will give us the best indication of how 2012 stacks up when it comes to holiday hiring. It is likely that a lot more of the holiday hiring plans announced by national retailers, including J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Macy’s, will show up in the November hiring figures,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“It remains to be seen how the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy could impact retail hiring on the east coast. These were highly populated areas that were affected. There is a good chance that many people in the region will still be trying to rebuild their lives when the peak holiday shopping season starts in a few weeks. Buying Christmas presents could fall pretty low on the list of priorities, which may mean that retailers in this area – many of whom are also facing significant damage – may hold off on planned holiday hiring,” said Challenger.
In its annual holiday hiring forecast released in September, Challenger predicted that seasonal hiring would be about the same or slightly higher than a year ago.
“Even before Hurricane Sandy, there was little evidence to suggest that retailers would return to the pre-recession levels of seasonal hiring, when retail employment gains averaged more than 720,000 extra workers added over the final three months of the year. Retail sales are stronger than a year ago, but the economy is still a long way from full recovery and with more than 12 million Americans still unemployed, there are still a lot of potential holiday shoppers who remain on a very tight budget,” said Challenger.
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JOBS ADDED IN RETAIL TRADE
October, November, December, 1999-2012
Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., using non-seasonally
adjusted data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
|Announced Seasonal Hiring|
|Toys R Us||45,000|
|Hickory Farms (Food)||5,225|
List compiled by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.