Holidays are around the corner and businesses who expect demand to spike sharply are gearing up to meet the demands. Undoubtedly, this bodes well for the job market which has shown scant progress on expected lines.
It is a known fact that most of the holiday season’s job openings are filled by contingent workers, as businesses expand workforces to meet temporary changes in buying levels. In a recent report, Hanover Research said healthcare and retail have the highest number of job openings at 17% and 14% respectively while business services are not far behind.
The numbers speak eloquently as merchants, whether brick-n-mortar or pure-play online retailers, are preparing for the onslaught with vigor and optimism. Even as it is gearing up to meet its promise of fast and cheap home delivery to its customers within 1 or 2 hours, Amazon has declared an intention to hire 100,000 new workers. This is 20000 more than its hiring in the 2014 holiday season. Estimates place the new seasonal positions at 700,000 to 750,000 thanks to the surge of activity in online and offline sales. At $11.75 per hour and an average of 25 hours worked per person for a 10-week season, this equates to a boost in wages of more than $2 billion.
Let us take a look at the big businesses which announced how many they will be hiring.
While all of these jobs are seasonal additions, the employers have stated a willingness to offer them as paths to a career in the retail industry. retailers have added 449500 jobs between March and August of this year, and it remains to be seen how many of these hiring plans will meet their goals and how many workers will make the transition to permanent careers in the retail industry.
As retails jobs are totally dependent on consumer spending, we must also consider what others are predicting for customer spending in the holidays. The expectation is set at $805.65 per person; a mere $3.20 up from last year’s $802.45. Gallup’s estimate puts last year’s spending at $781 and predicts this year’s at $812. Gallup also found that more people are planning to buy gifts than before, though few survey respondents wish to appear financially irresponsible by saying they plan to spend big. A third of Gallup’s adult respondents plan to spend $1,000 or more on gifts and another quarter say they will spend between $500 and $999. Another third will spend between $100 and $499, while 3 percent plan to spend less than $100, and 8 percent say they will spend nothing. Gallup also found just 20% saying they will spend less than what they spent in 2014, signifying a low level of caution last witnessed in 2007. In other words, the surveys believe that the consumer mindset about holiday spending has been finally restored to the non-recessionary levels seen prior to 2008.
The unemployment rate in the USA currently stands at 5.1% according to the latest job market report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But, not everyone is convinced that the indications of a healthy job market are all positive. This is because the report on the job market leaves some aspects of its report quite ambiguous. The unemployment number may have dropped not only because of people finding jobs. Quite a few of the unemployed have given up actively looking for a job and gone back to school, or are staying at home to care for family or relatives. Some of them may have retired, deciding not to look for another job. Currently, we have about 10000 baby boomers retiring per day. According to some estimates, nearly 94 million Americans are not working. Against this scenario, any creation of jobs, even if seasonal, must be seen as very good news, and it is worth the wait to see what the actual numbers would look like!
What do you think about the prospects for the job market this holiday season? Please write in and let us know.
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