Seasonal Hiring May Be Different This Year

Author: Josh Previte
19 Sep 22

Seasonal hiring is officially upon us, but the competition for seasonal workers may be decreased this year.

As the temperature drops and the beach days fade, the autumn seasonal hiring season is quickly approaching for many employers. Hiring quotas, capped budgets, and tight deadlines are all headaches that recruiters endure during this busy time of year. 

Seasonal Trends

Seasonal hiring trends differ by industry. Looking at seasonally unadjusted job openings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics over the last five years, retail trade and transportation/warehousing consistently peak in September and October. During this busy period, warehousing employers average 66% more job openings than in January.

But broad, industry-level seasonality can only tell us so much about the demand to hire seasonal workers. So, using Appcast’s data, we analyzed job postings with titles containing certain keywords: “seasonal,” “holiday,” or “Christmas” over the past twenty-five months. Compared to 2020, seasonal hiring began nearly a month earlier in 2021. 2020 seasonal hiring ramped up in September, reaching a peak in job postings the week of November 30. But, in 2021, seasonal hiring hit its pace in early August, reaching a peak the week of November 8. 

Looking ahead towards this year’s holiday season, there are signs that it could be weaker than last year. Growth in warehousing employment has stalled, with many employers already overstaffed from the pandemic recovery. As a result, seasonal job postings were relatively flat over the course of August. While it is almost guaranteed that seasonal postings will increase from September through the end of the year, the market is not yet seeing the ultra-high demand for workers as it did last year.   

Job Seeker Engagement

As for job seekers looking for seasonal work, it’s a different story. The chart below shows Google search trends for “seasonal job” averaged over the past five years. Users tend to ramp up their job searches in late September, with activity steadily increasing until the week before Thanksgiving. Job seeker searches then peak the last week in November, before decreasing throughout December.

Appcast data exhibits similar trends, with applications for seasonal jobs peaking during the weeks of November 2 in 2020 and November 8 in 2021. Applications also tend to dramatically decrease the week of Thanksgiving and do not rebound until the following fall. In 2022, seasonal job seeker applications started to increase in August, and currently remain at approximately the same level as both 2020 and 2021. 

One key difference between seasonal hiring in 2020 and 2021 was a job seeker’s willingness to apply. In 2021, the labor market shifted towards job seekers, allowing them to be more selective on potential employers. Average apply rates in November dipped 1.73% from 2020 to 2021 for the retail industry, and 1.15% for the warehouse industry. Overall apply numbers decreased, despite a similar job search volume from 2020.  

As always, the 2022 seasonal market will be determined by the intersection of job seeker supply and employer demand to hire. Employers have started to post seasonal jobs earlier, but it hasn’t necessarily translated into earlier applications. In order to take advantage of cyclic job seeker engagement, recruiters should post their seasonal jobs by the last week of September, and follow these other tips.   

Josh Previte is a Data Analyst on the Premium team at Appcast

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