2020 Seasonal Retail Hiring November Update


Published December 8, 2020

Retail Hiring Slows in November; on Pace to Fall Below 2019 Level

Seasonal Retail employment gains declined 35% in November from the previous November, as employers added 302,100 jobs in the sector last month compared to 466,400 during November of 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.

As of November, 15,487,600 workers were employed in Retail. That is down 3.7% from the 16,080,200 employed workers in Retail in the same month last year.

“November is the month where Retailers typically add the bulk of their holiday workers. While this year has been atypical and many Retailers beefed up their staff in March and April, Retail employment is down overall this year,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Millions of Americans remain out of work and the latest Employment Situation from the BLS suggests hiring is stagnating,” he added.

Indeed, employers added 245,000 jobs in November, roughly 200,000 jobs lower than many projections. According to the report, gains in Retail declined, while increasing in Transportation and Warehousing, though jobs in that sector also remain below February’s levels.

So far this season, Retailers added 544,900 jobs in October and November, 12.5% lower than the 622,500 jobs added in the same time period for the sector last year.

“Clearly Retailers anticipate low consumer spending and certainly low in-store turnout this holiday season. December would need to be a higher-than-average hiring surge to beat last year’s numbers,” said Challenger.

Companies have also slowed their seasonal hiring announcements, according to Challenger tracking. Through November, Challenger has recorded 759,350 seasonal hiring plans announced by U.S.-based companies. This is down 3.9% from the 789,781 hiring plans announced at the same point in 2019. For the entire 2019 holiday season, companies announced 813,781 hiring plans.

Transportation & Warehousing Job Gains Continue to Soar

“Meanwhile, to meet shipping demands this holiday season which may be greater than expected since so many people are shipping goods and gifts instead of delivering them in-person, jobs in Transportation and Warehousing, saw the highest gains in a single month last month,” said Challenger.

Transportation and Warehousing added 260,800 jobs in November, 118% higher than the 119,400 jobs added in November 2019. For the season, this sector has added 369,000 jobs, 137% higher than the 155,700 jobs added in the same period last year.

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