Last month was the best November for holiday retail hiring since 2007, as retailers added nearly twice as many employees as they did during November 2008 during the height of the recession, said consultant Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
Non-seasonally adjusted hiring rose 423,500 in November, up 27% from the same month last year, according to statistics from the U.S. Board of Labor Statistics. The widely reported seasonally adjusted figure, which is intended to smooth out sharp fluctuations in seasonal hiring, showed a net gain of 49,800. The consultancy said it uses the non-seasonally adjusted figures to capture actual hiring activity.
October retail hiring was 123,700, up 15% from a year earlier. So far this holiday season, retailers have added 547,200 workers, up from 476,800 in October and November of last year.
"While we expected holiday retail hiring to be about the same as a year ago, stronger-than-expected sales on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday could result in a late hiring surge that could push December employment gains up over last year's levels," said John A. Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics last week said the U.S. jobless rate sank to 8.6% in November, the first drop below 9% since March and the lowest unemployment rate since March of 2009.