Seasonal Hiring Expected to Hit 15-Year Low Amid Cooling Labor Market

September 18, 2023

U.S. retailers are on pace to hire the lowest number of seasonal workers for this holiday season in 15 years, as employers deal with high labor costs and uncertain consumer confidence.

Retailers are expected to add just 410,000 new jobs in the run-up to the holidays, according to a report from labor placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That would be the lowest number of hires since the 324,000 added in 2008, during the Great Recession.

Numbers have been trending down in recent years. This year’s 410,000 represents a 26% decline from 2022’s 519,400 jobs, which already marked a large dropoff from 2021’s 701,400.

The decline represents uncertainty around the holiday seasons. Estimates from Deloitte suggest this could be the slowest holiday sales period in five years as dwindling household savings, high inflation, and concerns about the economy prompt holiday shoppers to spend less.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas also noted this uncertainty not only in low hiring projections but also in how few retailers have even made projections. “We have never gone this far into September and not had big hiring predictions from retailers,” said Andrew Challenger, adding that it signals uncertainty and lower seasonal hiring trends this year.

In the days since the report’s release, we have seen a few major retailers signal their holiday hiring intentions. Amazon led the way, announcing that they intend to hire 250,000 seasonal hires, 100,000 more than last year. Target announced they would hold hiring levels at the 100,000 they have hired for the past two years. Macy’s said it will hire just 38,000 seasonal employees, less than half of what they hired in 2021.

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