US Retailers Anticipate Needing Even More Workers This Holiday Season

US Retailers Anticipate Needing Even More Workers This Holiday Season

The holiday hiring season is already in full swing in the US and the number of seasonal workers hired this year is expected to grow, according to a new forecast from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, citing year-to-year trends and announcements retailers have already made this year:

Last year, seasonal retail employment increased by 668,400 during the final three months of the year, 4.3 percent higher than the 641,000 jobs added in 2016, according to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). … Last year, BLS data showed that transportation and warehousing employment increased by a non-seasonally adjusted 279,700, up 13.4 percent from the 246,700 workers in the final quarter of 2016 and 6.6 percent higher than the 262,300 workers hired in this sector in the final three months of 2015.

Companies in this sector are averaging 5.2 million workers this year, compared to 4.9 million in 2015 and 4.2 million in 2008, according to non-seasonally adjusted BLS data.

Challenger points to several companies that have announced they will hire as many holiday season employees as last year or more: Macy’s announced this week that it planned to hire 80,000 seasonal workers, as many as it planned to at the start of the 2017 season (it ultimately hired 87,000 last year). FedEx announced plans for 55,000 holiday hires, a 10 percent increase over last year’s number, and said it would also increase hours for some current employees. The big-box retailer Target, meanwhile, said on Thursday that it would hire around 120,000 seasonal workers for the holidays, 20 percent more than last year, while also raising starting pay by $1 per hour, the Star-Tribune reported:

As consumers increasingly shift to online shopping, the Minneapolis-based retailer said it will double the number of workers dedicated to handling in-store pickup and curbside service, and boost its workforce at distribution warehouses by about two-thirds from last year. … Target said it would offer existing workers additional hours and would pay temporary hires $12 an hour along with store discounts, up from $11 an hour last year. It also will spend $2 million on rewards for those who work during the holiday period.

Target’s decision to raise starting wages is in keeping with a pledge it made last year to voluntarily push its minimum wage up to $15 an hour by 2020. Other major retailers, such as Kohl’s and JCPenney, began taking applications for holiday season jobs all the way back in the early summer, while also offering new perks to attract seasonal workers. The holiday hiring season has been starting earlier and earlier in recent years, as employers struggle to fill roles in a tight labor market. Some major companies have been experimenting with new approaches to filling their holiday staffing needs, such as increasing hours for existing staff and offering work-from-home opportunities in e-commerce and customer service.