Business & Economy

Holiday hiring could be at its highest since 2000

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File: A "now hiring" sign is viewed in the window of a fast food restaurant in New York City. Strong seasonal retail hiring boosts the spending power of American consumers.
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Even in the depths of the recession, retailers hired several hundred thousand extra workers to stock shelves and run registers during the holiday shopping season. This year, it will be double that. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicts retailers including Amazon, UPS, Fedex, Macy’s, Target, GameStop, and others will have added as many as 800,000 seasonal workers from October through December—more than any year since 2000.

CEO John Challenger points out that with Black Friday losing its prominence and consumers spreading their shopping out right up until Christmas, retailers are continuing to hire as store traffic warrants well into December.

And he notes that 2014 has been a good year for non-seasonal hiring as well. “Three million more people are working now than in November 2013,” says Challenger. "And that adds to the spending power of American consumers during the holiday season.”

Many seasonal retail jobs are low-wage and part-time. But Kristy Stromberg at job-search site says limited hours aren’t necessarily a bad thing: “Some people are looking for that. One of our highest job-search keywords is ‘part-time.’”

The work is also mostly temporary. “For the most part,” says Challenger, “the jobs added to the economy go away in February and March.” He estimates one in ten seasonal retail workers ends up being hired on permanently after the holiday shopping surge is over.