Published January 10, 2024

U.S. Retailers Staff Up in December for Solid Holiday

U.S. Retailers added 119,700 jobs in December, marking a slight increase from the 102,400 jobs added in the same month of the previous year. This brings the total for the season to 564,200, an 11% rise from the 509,300 jobs announced in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to an analysis of non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by global outplacement and leadership development and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

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

Despite this growth, the figures are among the lowest since the 495,800 jobs were added in Q4 2009.

Related: 2022 Seasonal Hiring Final Report

2022 Seasonal Hiring Final Report: Fewest Seasonal Retail Jobs Added Since 2009; Created in Canva Pro

“This conservative hiring pattern could be attributed to the cost of labor and an anticipation of slower economic growth as we head into 2024. However, the holiday shopping season ended strong, and Retailers expanded their ranks to meet demand,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Retailer employment reached 15,979,100 workers in December, surpassing 2022’s employment numbers and signaling the highest employment level since 2019, when 16,040,000 workers were employed in the sector.

Related: 2023 Seasonal Retail Hiring Update; Retail remains cautious in November

2023 Seasonal Retail Hiring Update: Retail remains cautious in November; Added Transportation/Warehousing jobs fall 21% from last year

What is Happening in Transportation and Warehousing?

The Transportation and Warehousing sector saw fewer workers to end 2023 than the previous year. After reporting lower employment numbers in November compared to the previous year, December’s figures ticked up from the same month one year prior to 131,700 from 122,700 December of 2022. Total employment in the sector is 7,008,800, down from December 2022 when 7,049,000 were employed in the sector. This may reflect the impact of labor disputes and unionization efforts that have shifted the industry away from seasonal employment, according to Challenger.

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

“Transportation, Shipping, and Warehousing staffing had a seasonal component, but with labor action and post-pandemic supply and demand shifts, we may see less dramatic seasonal swings in this sector,” he said.

While Challenger did not track any more large-scale seasonal hiring announcements, a strong consumer holiday brought more-than-expected hiring for Retailers. U.S.-based companies have announced 573,300 seasonal positions for September through December, according to Challenger’s tracking.

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