Seasonal Hiring Up More Than 10%

Despite some year-end uncertainty related to fiscal cliffs, a devastating hurricane and election-year politicking, retailers were confident enough in the final three months of 2012 to ramp up holiday hiring to its highest level in six years, according to an analysis of government employment data released by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Employment in the retail sector increased by a net 728,300 jobs, between October 1 and December 31, according to non-seasonally adjusted data, released last week by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That is 10.3 percent higher than 2011, when retailers added 660,200 extra workers over the final three months of the year.  The nearly 730,000 retail jobs added this year represents the strongest year-end hiring surge since 2006, when employment in the sector increased by 746,900.

The bulk of the 2012 holiday hiring occurred in October and November, when employment grew by 149,600 and 490,400 workers, respectively.  Retailers hired just 88,300 additional workers in December, which was actually down significantly from the 147,600 workers added in December 2011.

“The fact that holiday hiring in the retail sector reached pre-recession levels is remarkable for a few reasons.  More people are working, but many are still under-employed and, as a result, wages have remained stubbornly low.  So, spending power this year was not necessarily greater than a year ago.  Additionally, more people are shopping online, where increased holiday demand is more easily met without adding a lot of seasonal workers.   Yet, despite these factors, brick-and-mortar retailers moved forward with increased hiring,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“An early Thanksgiving, which meant earlier Black Friday sales, may have contributed to an earlier hiring surge.  Additionally, a growing number of retailers opened their doors on Thanksgiving Thursday, which may have also boosted the need for extra hiring in order to ensure that enough workers were available to staff these holiday hours,” he noted.

Retail sales, excluding drug stores, increased 4.8 percent in December, according to Retail Metrics.  The International Council of Shopping Centers estimates that its members will show an increase about 4.0 percent total for December.  Meanwhile, e-commerce was up 14 percent for the entire holiday season, according to comScore.

“Some industry analysts are expecting retail sales to maintain some momentum into the new year, as consumers spend gift cards.  However, gift card traffic is unlikely to result retailers holding on to all of the extra holiday workers.  Some may stay, but the vast majority will be let go,” said Challenger.

After adding 660,200 seasonal workers over the final three months of 2011, retail employment fell by 789,400 in January and February 2012.

JOBS ADDED IN RETAIL TRADE

October, November, December, 1999-2012

 

Oct

Nov

Dec

TOTAL

Job Growth Compared to Previous Year

1999

172,200

369,100

308,200

849,500

8.0%

2000

143,600

393,800

250,800

788,200

-7.2%

2001

95,700

352,100

137,500

585,300

-25.7%

2002

125,800

350,500

193,200

669,500

14.4%

2003

145,000

305,100

189,800

639,900

-4.4%

2004

158,000

371,800

180,700

710,500

11.0%

2005

122,300

392,700

196,600

711,600

0.2%

2006

150,600

427,300

169,000

746,900

5.0%

2007

87,900

465,400

167,600

720,900

-3.5%

2008

38,600

213,600

72,700

324,900

-54.9%

2009

45,100

317,100

133,600

495,800

52.6%

2010

149,800

339,200

158,600

647,600

30.6%

2011

128,900

   383,700

147,600

660,200

1.9%

2012

149,600

   490,400

88,300

728,300

10.3%

AVERAGE

122,364

369,414

171,014

662,793

 

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., with non-seasonally adjusted data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

JOBS LOST IN RETAIL TRADE
January, February, 2005-2012
 

Jan

Feb

TOTAL

2005

-655,600

-139,400

-795,000

2006

-692,800

-178,400

-871,200

2007

-640,000

-160,600

-800,600

2008

-698,100

-232,700

-930,800

2009

-736,000

-249,200

-985,200

2010

-572,800

-167,700

-740,500

2011

-559,700

-166,500

-726,200

2012

-568,700

-220,700

-789,400

 

     

 

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., with non-seasonally adjusted data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

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