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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Seasonal Hiring Announcements, So Far

Seasonal Hiring Announcements

 

**In addition to Wal-Mart’s hiring of 55,000 seasonal workers, the company announced it will also expand 70,000 jobs from part-time to permanent part-time or full-time positions.

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

November Holiday Hiring Strongest On Record

Retailers added 465,500 seasonal workers in November, the most ever added during what is typically the busiest hiring month of the holiday hiring season, according to an analysis of non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The net gain in retail employment achieved last month barely surpassed the previous record set in 2007, when retail payrolls grew by 465,400 workers during the month of November.

November job gains were up 21 percent from the 383,700 seasonal workers hired by retailers a year ago.  Furthermore, October job gains in the retail sector were adjusted upward to 145,200 from an originally-reported figure of 130,100. Continue reading

Retailers Add 130K Jobs In Oct, Slightly Better Than 2011

 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.

# # #

JOBS ADDED IN RETAIL TRADE

October, November, December, 1999-2012

  Oct Nov Dec TOTAL Job Growth Compared to Previous Year
1999 172,300 369,000 308,100 849,400 8.0%
2000 143,700 393,800 250,600 788,100 -7.2%
2001 95,700 352,000 137,600 585,300 -25.7%
2002 125,900 350,400 193,300 669,600 14.4%
2003 145,100 305,000 189,900 640,000 -4.4%
2004 157,800 371,800 180,600 710,200 11.0%
2005 122,300 392,700 196,400 711,400 0.2%
2006 150,600 427,200 169,000 746,800 5.0%
2007 87,900 465,400 167,500 720,800 -3.5%
2008 38,600 213,500 72,800 324,900 -54.9%
2009 45,100 317,000 133,700 495,800 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 130,100 130,100  
AVERAGE 120,986 360,054 177,362 620,014

 

 

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., using non-seasonally

adjusted data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Announced Seasonal Hiring
September/October
Target 90,000
Macy’s 80,000
Kohl’s 52,700
Walmart 50,000
Amazon 50,000
Toys R Us 45,000
JC Penney 40,000
PartyCity 20,000
FedEx 20,000
GameStop 17,000
Best Buy 14,000
Hickory Farms (Food) 5,225
TOTAL 483,925

List compiled by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Amazon To Add 50,000 Seasonal Workers

Amazon To Hire 50,000 Seasonal Workers

Amazon will hire 50,000 temporary workers for the holiday season, adding to the ever-growing list of seasonal hires. Similar announcements have come from big-box retailers Wal-Mart and Target, as well as from Toys R Us, Macy’s, JC Penney, and Best Buy. Challenger predicts this year will see better hiring than last, but we are far from pre-recession levels.

 

Announced Seasonal Hiring
Target Retail 90,000
Macy’s Retail 80,000
Kohl’s Retail 52,700
Wal-Mart Retail 50,000
Amazon Retail 50,000
Toys R Us Retail 45,000
JC Penney Retail 40,000
PartyCity Retail 20,000
Gamestop Retail 17,000
Best Buy Retail 14,000
Hickory Farms Food 5,225
TOTAL   463,925