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Seasonal Urgent Hiring Job Postings Grow Tenfold

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But no rebound in job seeker interest in holiday jobs.

Key points:

  • The share of seasonal job postings on Indeed’s US site are starting to climb, but as of September 22 were 30% below 2020 and 23% below 2019.
  • More than 10% of seasonal job postings noted that hiring was urgent in the job description, up from 1.0% the year before.
  • The share of job seeker searches for seasonal work was down 1.5% compared with a year ago and 39% from 2019. 

Fall weather is starting to arrive, a sign the holiday season is just around the corner. Thanks to the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines, the public health crisis has eased since last year despite the delta variant surge.  But coronavirus is still very much with us and the holidays will be very different from years past. Employers have a lot to grapple with, including the still-dangerous pandemic, messy school reopenings, and the question of whether vaccination of workers should be required. All these make it tricky to predict how much consumers will spend, what they will buy, and whether they’ll go to stores or shop at home. With so much in flux, it’s hard for employers to accurately predict seasonal hiring needs.

Seasonal job posting share sluggish in 2021

Line graph titled “US holiday postings share below previous years.” With a vertical axis ranging 0 to 20,000, Indeed tracked the share of Christmas and seasonal jobs per million along a horizontal axis ranging from July to January with different colored lines representing 2019, 2020, and 2021. As of September 22, 2021, seasonal job postings were 30% below where they were in 2020 and 23% below 2019.

In the seven days ending September 22, the share of seasonal job postings per million on Indeed’s US site lagged past years. Though seasonal job postings are starting to climb, the trend was down 30% from the comparable period in 2020 and 23% below 2019. But, unlike last year, many employers have been on hiring sprees for months. That means employers may not need as many seasonal workers as last year because they’ve been hiring at an elevated pace year round. With overall employer demand for workers bouncing back, seasonal job postings represent a smaller share of overall job postings on Indeed. 

Urgency is front and center

Bar chart titled “Greater urgency to hire for seasonal jobs this year.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 10%, Indeed compared the percentage of Christmas and seasonal jobs advertising hiring incentives and percentage of seasonal jobs hiring urgently with different colored bars representing 2020 and 2021. As of September 22, 2021, 10.1% of seasonal job postings mention hiring urgently in the job description compared with 1.0% in 2020.

One thing is striking in this year’s seasonal job postings: There’s a palpable sense of urgency from employers. In the seven days ending September 22, 10.1% of seasonal job postings indicated hiring was urgent in the job description, up from 1.0% a year ago and substantially higher than the 2.6% of overall job postings that noted urgent hiring. It’s a similar story for hiring incentives, such as signing bonuses or cash. In 2021, as of September 22, 3.5% of seasonal job postings advertised hiring incentives, up from less than 1% a year ago.

Job seeker interest in seasonal work fizzles 

Line chart titled “US holiday searches sluggish.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0 to 4000, Indeed tracked the Christmas and seasonal searches per million along a horizontal axis ranging from July to January with different colored lines representing 2019, 2020, and 2021. As of September 22, 2021, the share of job seeker searches for seasonal work is down by 1.5% compared to the 2020 trend.

For employers looking to hire urgently, there’s little relief on the horizon. In the seven days ending September 22, the share of job seeker searches for seasonal work was down 1.5% from a year ago. Compared with the same period in 2019, the share of seasonal job searches fell 39%. 

There are a myriad of factors dampening job seeker interest, from COVID-19 concerns to reliance on a temporary financial cushion. If employers are anticipating a wave of jobseekers to fill vacancies this holiday season, they’ll be sorely disappointed. Now is the time to ramp up hiring efforts and consider sweetening offers with signing bonuses or cash incentives. Waiting until later in the season may make hiring even more challenging. 

The 2019 sector mix is back

Bar chart titled “Holiday jobs returning to pre-pandemic sector mix.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 60%, Indeed compared the percentage of Christmas and seasonal jobs posted across “customer service, “loading and stocking,” “retail,” and “sales” with different colored bars representing 2019, 2020, and 2021. As of September 22, 2021, the sector mix of seasonal job postings looks similar to the 2019 trend

In 2021, the sector mix of seasonal job postings looks similar to 2019. While the share of seasonal retail job postings has dropped, job ads in the other major holiday-sensitive sectors, like customer service, loading & stocking, and sales, are close to their 2019 percentages. 

Progress fighting COVID-19 is underpinning this sectoral shift. For example, seasonal sales job postings, many of which are for in-person work, slipped in 2020 when holiday shopping heavily shifted online in response to coronavirus. In 2021, employers are anticipating at least some recovery of demand for in-person shopping and want to staff stores more like in 2019.

Conclusion

The pandemic continues to shape labor market trends and holiday hiring is no exception. Though the share of seasonal job postings is down, it’s probably because employers have spent much of 2021 trying to hire as society reopens. The sector mix is shifting back to 2019 trends, which highlights the improving public health situation.

For those looking to hire, urgency is king. The shares of seasonal job postings that note hiring is urgent or advertise hiring incentives have jumped. But job seeker interest is lukewarm at best — lower than in both 2019 and 2020. If interest doesn’t pick up soon, employer staffing problems may worsen as we head into peak holiday hiring in November. 

Methodology

We define seasonal job postings as those with one or more holiday-related term in the job title, including, but not limited to, “holiday,” “seasonal,” and “Christmas.” Definitions change slightly from year to year, so previous holiday hiring blogs are not directly comparable. Seasonal job searches are defined as those containing one or more of the same list of holiday-related terms.

We define urgent hiring job postings as those in which terms like “hiring urgently,” “urgent hire,” “immediate start,” “urgent vacancy,” or “start today,” appear in the job description. These postings do not refer to the ‘hiring urgently’ tag visible to job seekers on Indeed. 

We define hiring incentive job postings as those that have terms related to signing bonuses or retention bonuses, or contain “bonus,” “bonuses,” or “incentive” in the title of the job posting. Signing bonus job postings are defined as those that include terms like “signing bonus,” “sign on bonus,” “signing incentive,” or “bonus for signing on” in the job description. Retention bonus jobs are defined as postings that include terms like “retention bonus” or “longevity bonus” in the job description.