The U.S.’ jobless rate dropped to a 50-year low last month, adding to retailers’ recruitment headache as they search for hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers.
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 136,000 in September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. While this was lower than the 145,000 that Wall Street was expecting, it still helped push the unemployment rate down to 3.5 percent in September, from 3.7 percent the previous month. The last time the rate was this low was in December 1969, when it also was 3.5 percent.
Gad Levanon, chief economist at the Conference Board, said: “Job growth remains on its slowing trend even as labor markets continue to get tighter. While wages dropped slightly, finding qualified workers is likely to get more difficult.”
The figures will no doubt make retailers’ lives more difficult as they put the call out for a seasonal army as Black Friday approaches. Kohl’s Corp. started its search for 90,000 workers in July.
Target Corp. followed suit last month, putting the call out for more than 130,000 seasonal hires for its stores and distribution centers, up from around 120,000 last year, while Macy’s Inc. is on the lookout for 80,000 and Gap Inc. a smaller-than-usual 30,000 across all its brands.
And that’s not it, as retail giant Amazon.com will be hot on their heels, expected to unveil its seasonal hiring plans shortly. Last year, it advertised around 100,000 holiday positions.
It also comes at a time when retail employment appears to be shrinking. Since reaching a peak in January 2017, retail trade has lost 197,000 jobs.
In September, retail employment dropped by 11,000, compared with August. Clothing and clothing accessories stores shed 14,000 jobs and department stores fell by 6,200.