Retailers added 156,100 jobs in October, an upward revision of 18,900 jobs, and 466,400 jobs in November, according to an analysis of non-seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from global outplacement and executive and business coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

October’s total is 34.7% higher than last October, when 115,900 jobs were added. It is the highest October total since 2015, when 183,300 jobs were added.

Meanwhile, November’s total is 5.7% lower than the same month last year. So far this season, retailers have added 622,500 jobs, 1.9% higher than the 610,700 added through this point last season. It is the highest October-November hiring total since 2012, when 624,100 jobs were added.

“Retailers predicted a strong season, and demand has not softened through November. Even with slow December hiring, we will see more jobs added than in 2018. In fact, retailers could potentially add over 700,000 Retail jobs this season, something we have not seen since 2015,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Jobs added in Transportation and Warehousing were revised down by 7,400 to 36,300. This sector added 119,400 jobs in November for a total of 155,700 so far this season. That is 5.1% lower than October-November last year, when 164,100 jobs were added.

“All sectors are having trouble finding talent this year, with the unemployment rate at 3.5% and more available job openings than people currently searching for work. Companies in Transportation and Warehousing, as well as Retail, simply cannot find the people needed for the holidays,” said Challenger.

In fact, the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the BLS found over 7 million job openings. The BLS’s Employment Situation for November reported that unemployed persons who had looked for work in the last four weeks stood at 5.8 million in November, another 1.2 million were long-term unemployed, and an additional 1.2 million were marginally attached, meaning they were available and willing to work, but had not searched in the last four weeks.

“Now may be a good time for those who are long-term unemployed or who have not found something in the last year to pick up a seasonal position. Many of these positions turn into regular, permanent employment after the holiday season,” said Challenger.

For instance, UPS reports 35% of their seasonal workers become permanent. Target retained 40% of their seasonal workforce last season, while Macy’s reportedly kept 10%, according to CNBC.

So far this holiday season, Challenger has tracked 789,781 large-scale seasonal hiring announcements, 10.6% higher than the 714,000 tracked through last season, and the highest since the firm began tracking in 2012. Amazon, which last year announced 100,000 new jobs for the holiday season, doubled their seasonal hiring plans to 200,000 this year.

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