Retail Seasonal Hiring Down From Last Year
This year, retailers hired 576,800 seasonal workers during November and December, but that was down from the 582,500 seasonal workers hired in 2017. Previously, the NRF had predicted that holiday employment would rise by 585,000 to 650,000 seasonal jobs.
"Retailers would have been happy to hire more seasonal workers if they could have found them," said Jack Kleinhenz, the chief economist for the National Retail Federation, a trade group based in Washington, D.C.
December saw monthly gains of 15,000 jobs at general merchandise stores, which include department stores and warehouse clubs. There was a loss of 1,100 jobs at online and other non-store retailers and a dip of 9,400 jobs at sporting goods and hobby stores.
Overall, retail industry employment in December grew 37,600 year-over-year with the nation adding 312,000 jobs overall in December, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The retail gains excluded automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.
However, the U.S. unemployment rate in December inched up to 3.9 percent from 3.7 percent in November. "While the unemployment rate increased, it did so for the right reason. More individuals are seeking to enter the labor force since wages are growing," Kleinhenz said.