Nov 24, 2023 - Economy

Holiday jobs market shows signs of cooling off

Photo: Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Workers looking to pick up a seasonal job may have a harder time getting one this holiday season amid signals the red-hot job market may be cooling off.

Why it matters: The holiday hiring season serves as an annual end-of-the-year litmus test for how companies like retailers — which are constantly studying consumer behavior — are feeling about the broader economy.

The big picture: U.S.-based retailers have indicated plans to hire the same or fewer numbers of seasonal workers over concerns about higher labor costs and potentially weaker consumer spending tied to inflation, rising interest rates and depleting savings.

By the numbers: U.S.-based retailers have announced they're adding roughly 573,000 seasonal positions so far this year, which is the lowest it's been since 2013, per an analysis by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

  • Job seeker searches for seasonal work on Indeed were up 33% as of Sept. 30 compared to the same time in 2022. Employer demand for seasonal workers was down 8.2%, according to Indeed.
  • "It feels like the labor market has really cooled," Andy Challenger, a senior vice president with Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told NBC News.

Zoom in: Among companies reporting fewer hires this holiday are Macy's, which is reportedly picking up 38,000 workers, down from the roughly 41,000 workers it announced plans to hire last year.

  • Target said it plans to add 100,000 seasonal workers this year, roughly the same as last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Walmart indicated it's being cautious with season hiring levels, saying it's been staffing up throughout the year, Reuters reported.

Yes, but: One big exception is Amazon, which had announced it was hiring 250,000 seasonal workers this year, up from the 100,000 it hired last year. It's also offering $3,000 signing bonuses in some parts of the country.

The intrigue: A growing factor in major retailers' outlooks is the impact shoplifting has been having on their bottom lines.

  • But one company, Best Buy, says it has been able to stem losses seen by other big box stores when it comes to theft — by having more staff in its stores, CNN reports.
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