The largest focus toward the holiday hiring season is upon the retail trade sector. This includes nearly the whole scope of stores one would expect to visit for holiday gift purchases, so it is the main industry through which consumers will spend their holiday shopping dollars. The assumption is the stronger the overall economy, the more demand there will be for holiday shopping, and with a higher demand for holiday shopping comes a higher demand for holiday hiring.
Between September and December, holiday hiring will increase retail trade employment by 6,000 to 9,000 workers in most normal years. However, in the recession years of 2008 thru 2010, retail trade holiday hiring was noticeably below normal.
As a forecast for seasonal hiring this year, with job growth relatively strong, seasonal hiring this year should be around 8,000 to 9,000.
One underlying factor that does not immediately come to the surface when looking at the numbers is the amount of online shopping that occurs. Online shopping implies that not as much in-store shopping is occurring as has been the case in the past, and therefore the demand for seasonal hiring could be down. One can only gauge that by comparing the amount of seasonal hiring against the size of the labor force; in other words against some sort of per capita assessment. The amount of seasonal hiring in 2000 was 8,700. In 2012 it was 8,900. Yet the labor force in 2012 is 20% larger than it was in 2000. If proportions were to hold, 8,700 in 2000 should translate in equal proportion to 9,500 in 2012. So there is evidence to support the speculation that online shopping may be weakening the overall need for holiday in-store hiring.