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Footnote: Challenger hiring intentions for holiday season off to a slower start in 2019 than 2018

Hiring intentions as seen in the Challenger report tend to show up most strongly in September and October and be concentrated in retail and transportation.

This month’s report put the level of retail hiring intentions at 299,200, below the 422,830 of September 2018. It could be that retailers are waiting to get a better sense of direction for consumer spending before deciding to add more workers. However, contraction in physical retail stores and heavy hiring for much of 2019 in those remaining probably mean that most plans are already in place for brick-and-mortar locations. There’s a hint in the data that on-line retail is expecting to be active for the holidays with plans to hire 5,764 workers in warehousing.  However, it does not look like retailers are overly optimistic about the upcoming shopping season.

With the rise of on-line shopping, transportation has become another source of strong holiday hiring. Challenger reported 150,263 hiring intentions in transportation in September, the second highest after the 168,188 in September 2018.

Adding up retail and wholesale, and transportation accounts for 99.0% of the 459,689 total for all hiring intentions in September 2019. If the increase in intentions for entertainment/leisure (900) and food (600) are at all related to the upcoming holidays, that makes it 99.4%.

My take is that other than some relatively small intentions that are likely to be one-offs in fintech (1,000) and automotive (500), hiring intentions are largely on hold at the moment and I would not look for more than a modest number of late intentions for seasonal workers to show up in October.

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