Published November 16, 2021

Challenger October 2021 Seasonal Hiring Update

Despite over 940,000 hiring announcements from companies that need seasonal workers this year, the highest since Challenger began tracking in 2012, Retail seasonal hiring fell 9% from last October, and seasonal Transportation & Warehousing hiring fell 17% from the same month last year, according to an analysis of non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Companies continue to have a difficult time attracting and retaining workers, particularly for in-person, shift positions,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“HR executives report people are leaving their jobs due to burnout and a desire for flexibility. But what they tend to offer is more money, which, while an attractive incentive, may not meet the needs of the candidates,” he added.

Indeed, in an online survey of 172 Human resources executives at companies of various sizes and industries nationwide, 59% of respondents said burnout was a leading cause of worker exodus. Another 74% cited desire for more flexibility.


July 2021 Survey Results: 85% Of Companies Experiencing Talent Shortage

Photo by DDP on Unsplash

Retailers added 218,500 jobs in October, down 9% from the 239,200 added in October last year. Last year’s October total was a record. Transportation and Warehousing added 97,300, down 17% from the 117,900 added in October of 2020, according to the BLS.

Seasonal jobs added in retail trade 2005 - 2020 and Oct 2021

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

Meanwhile, Retail employment has yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. The 15,500,000 employed Retail workers, according to preliminary, non-seasonally adjusted figures for October from the BLS, is down 103,000 from October 2019. Transportation and Warehousing employment at 5,977,200 is up 4% from the 5,754,800 employed in the same month in 2019, but down 21,200 jobs from December 2020.

Seasonal jobs added in transportation and warehousing since 2011 and Oct 2021

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

US-based companies have announced 940,300 seasonal hiring plans, according to Challenger tracking. This is up 11% from the 849,350 the firm tracked in 2020 and the most since the firm began tracking in 2012.

“Clearly, companies are gearing up for high demand this holiday season, but the worker shortage will complicate matters. Even if there weren’t issues in the general supply chain this holiday season, the worker supply shortage too will mean longer wait times and un-stocked shelves,” said Challenger.

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Challenger's Media Coverage

UPS seeks to hire 1,000 workers in Chicago area ahead of holiday season

Watch below or click here for the full story from ABC7 News.

ABC Chicago 7 News

UPS is having a hiring push ahead of the holidays. About 100 applicants were hired Friday at the Chicago office, and there will be more.

Holiday hiring has begun in many industries as the federal government reports more jobs were created and unemployment is down to 4.6%.

“Really, mostly good news,” said Andy Challenger, an outplacement specialist at Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “The economy is moving forward, not as fast as it might be if companies can find all the labor they’d like.”

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