Thursday, November 5, 2020 / by Ken Couture
Holiday hiring in Nevada will drop significantly against the backdrop of COVID-19.
On Monday, the Retail Association of Nevada said retailers are projected to hire 4,700 workers in the Silver State for the holiday season, with stores like Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Walmart and Michaels each hiring hundreds of seasonal workers at their Nevada stores. But the hiring forecast is a steep decline from 2019’s projection of 7,100 employees.
“This holiday shopping season will be much different than years past due to the ongoing pandemic that is altering consumer shopping habits,” said Bryan Wachter, senior vice president for government and public affairs for RAN. “While less in-person shopping is expected this year, Nevada retailers are still continuing to hire and keep up with consumer demand.”
With more consumers shopping online, the pandemic has reshaped the kinds of seasonal jobs retailers are hiring for.
From sales to warehouse
Big box stores have usually relied on temporary staff during the holidays to keep up with increase foot traffic. But as more home-bound U.S. consumers shop online, brick-and-mortar stores are hiring different types of seasonal jobs.
Steve Horwitz, an economics professor at Ball State University, said new retail trends — like self-checkouts, curbside delivery and online sales — were accelerated by the pandemic.
“What they can now do is they can move people off the cash registers and have them push carts through the store, collecting online orders,” Horwitz said. “It’s not that they’re employing a smaller number of people. They’re just reallocating their labor in ways that reflect the rise of e-commerce.”
Instead of needing sales clerks, for example, retailers may find themselves needing more distribution and delivery workers.
In Nevada, the retail association found many stores are building out their curbside pickup services and major delivery companies are hiring because of “booming e-commerce demand.”
Data from recent seasonal job postings seem to suggest an uptick in fulfillment jobs.
Ann Elizabeth Konkel, an economist with jobs website Indeed, found holiday job postings on Indeed are down 11 percent from last year and down 21 percent compared with the same time in 2018. Meanwhile, the online shopping surge has “shifted the composition” of holiday job postings: “Hiring ads related to loading and stocking have more than tripled their share of total seasonal job postings from previous years,” she wrote last month.
Filling those temporary holiday jobs will also be unlike previous years.
Konkel said that it seems “counter-intuitive” during a time of high unemployment that fewer people seem eager to apply for holiday gigs: Searches for seasonal jobs on Indeed are down 38 percent from last year.
Nevada’s unemployment rate in September was 12.6 percent, up 8.9 percent year-over-year. The state’s rate comes in higher than the national September unemployment rate of a seasonally adjusted 7.9 percent.
Like shoppers, retail workers are worried about the spread of COVID-19.
“Most seasonal job opportunities require at least some face-to-face interaction and health concerns are still top of mind for many of those looking for work,” Konkel wrote, adding that difficulty in finding child care is also a possibility for the decrease in seasonal job searches.
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