Economy Watch: Retailers Optimistic About Holiday Sales

The retail industry has hired more workers in October and November of 2017 than it did in the same period last year, suggesting a majority of retailers are ramping up employment as they anticipate a strong holiday season.

christmas-234105_1920Some retailers might have had a challenging year, but the overall sector is still showing signs of growth. The retail industry hired a net of 595,000 workers in October and November, up from just over 509,000 for the same period last year, according to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Dec. 8.

That’s also about at the same level as the previous four years. Those numbers are not seasonally adjusted by the bureau, but represent raw hiring. As a result, they tend to indicate that the retailers who have survived the wave of closures and contractions in 2017 anticipate a strong holiday season, since they are ramping up employment to meet customer demand.

That unadjusted data dovetails with the fact that, as a whole, the retail industry has stopped shedding employees, at least for the time being, according to seasonally adjusted data collected by the BLS for the retail industry.

By a seasonally adjusted metric, after retail employment had dropped the rest of the year, it was up from August to October by about 28,200 jobs. In November, the addition was 18,700 more on a seasonally adjusted basis, so even without the surge in employment in anticipation of the holidays, retailers are hiring again.