State of the Labor Market

Holiday Hiring Already in Full Swing


The seasonal jobs market is looking strong for both employers and job seekers — at least so far.

Key Points:

  • The seasonal jobs market is looking strong for both employers and job seekers despite concerns over trade tensions and a potential economic slowdown.
  • Holiday postings are up from last year, with average growth of 13% this August from the same period a year ago.
  • Job seeker interest in holiday postings is at a five-year high.

As autumn arrives and students settle into a new school year, the winter holidays still seem far away. But for employers and job seekers, thoughts are already turning toward the upcoming holiday hiring season. Despite trade tensions and a potentially slowing economy, US retail sales have continued to grow since March. With the economy still in high gear, employers and job seekers may be anticipating a jolly end to 2019.

To explore how economic slowdown worries may be affecting holiday hiring, we examined thousands of online job postings on Indeed from June 1 to Sept. 2 of this year that included terms such as “seasonal” and “holiday.” Additionally, we looked at which companies are doing the most seasonal hiring and at job seeker interest in those positions. Overall, we found that seasonal hiring is looking strong for both employers and job seekers — at least so far. 

Holiday postings outpace last year
Historically, job postings for US holiday positions tend to pick up in late summer and peak in early November. That trend is evident in this year’s data. When comparing holiday job postings per million postings on Indeed with their share in previous years, 2019 is right in the middle of the pack — outpacing 2015 and 2018, while slightly lagging 2016 and 2017.  The tariffs set to take effect near the end of the year don’t seem to be weighing down employer demand for seasonal hires — at least not yet. And with average growth of 13% from August 2018 to August 2019, it looks possible that elevated seasonal hiring demand may extend through the end of the year.

When looking specifically at holiday postings in sales and related occupations, prospects for job seekers appear promising. This year’s sales-related holiday job postings are outdoing every year except 2017. Comparing this past August with the same month a year ago, average growth was 21% in this category. This is good news for job seekers, especially given the retail sector’s overall slowing.

Record job seeker holiday interest

So what about job seekers? Similar to job postings, holiday job searches typically start in late August and peak in mid-November. This year, job seeker interest in holiday postings on Indeed is at a five-year high. In August, holiday job searches per million job searches were up 11% compared with August 2018. 

Unsurprisingly, large retailers dominate the list of companies seeking seasonal workers. Two apparel stores, Kohl’s and Famous Footwear, are in first and second place. Follett Corporation, an education company, is ninth, probably due to a late summer hiring push to handle beginning-of-the-school-year business. The US Postal Service comes in at number ten. USPS is classified as a transportation company and holiday season transportation hiring tends to start early relative to other occupations.

In a few weeks, the holiday hiring season will be in full swing and it looks to be a good one. Upcoming tariffs and a slowing retail sector don’t appear to be dampening either job seeker interest in holiday job postings or employer demand for seasonal workers. At least not yet. With large retailers leading the holiday postings, a robust hiring season appears to be underway.

Methodology

We define seasonal job postings as those with one or more holiday-related terms in the job title, including, but not limited to, “holiday,” “seasonal” and “Christmas.” Seasonal job searches are defined as those containing one or more of the same list of holiday-related terms.

We define sales job postings as those with a two-digit SOC code of 41, which encompasses the Sales and Related Occupations category, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Companies are ranked by the number of seasonal job postings on Indeed from June 1, 2019 to September 2, 2019.

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