Holiday Hiring Strongest Since 2007

Posted December 05, 2011 by

Holiday retail hiring, which remained flat in October, surged last month as employment in the sector increased by 423,500 in November*. That is the largest November employment gain since 465,400 workers were added in 2007, according to the latest analysis of non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The 423,500 seasonal workers added to retail payrolls last month was up 27 percent from a year ago, when retail employment grew by 332,700 in November. It is nearly double the 213,500 retail workers added in November 2008, at the height of the recession.

Despite the fact that October retail hiring was adjusted downward from an originally reported 141,500 to 123,700, the pace of seasonal hiring in 2011 is still up 15 percent from last year. So far this holiday season, retailers have added 547,200 workers, compared to 476,800 workers added in October and November 2010.

John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas

John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas

“While we expected holiday retail hiring to be about the same as a year ago, stronger-than-expected sales on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday could result in a late hiring surge that could push December employment gains up over last year’s levels,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“Retail employment grew by 150,800 in December 2010. Even if retailers simply match that level of hiring activity, seasonal hiring will exceed the 2010 total of 627,600 extra holiday workers,” he added.

According to the National Retail Federation, brick-and-mortar retail stores saw a 7 percent increase in Black Friday sales, which hit a record high $11.4 billion. Meanwhile, IBM reported that the average amount of money spent per consumer on Cyber Monday increased a whopping 33 percent.

It is not just retailers who are adding workers. According to Challenger tracking of hiring announcements, shipping giants FedEx and UPS planned to add a combined 75,000 workers to help them deliver holiday packages.

*The widely-reported seasonally-adjusted data, which is intended to “smooth out” volatile fluctuations in seasonal hiring, showed a net gain of 49,800 new retail jobs in November. Challenger uses the non-seasonally adjusted data to capture the actual holiday hiring activity.

October – December, 1999-2011

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

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