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COVID & Unemployment

Holiday temp work down this year, even with a lot of e-commerce hiring

Mitchell Hartman Dec 24, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

Holiday temp work down this year, even with a lot of e-commerce hiring

Mitchell Hartman Dec 24, 2020
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

In normal times, the lead-up to the holidays is when employment spikes sharply, with hundreds of thousands of temporary jobs added in retail, hospitality, bars and restaurants.

But COVID-19 has tamped down the typical seasonal boost to pay and employment this year.

Stores and malls hired around 700,000 temporary seasonal workers in the fall of 2019. As of the end of November this year, gains in temporary jobs were running way behind that pace:

Retail hiring fell 12.5% — a fairly significant drop-off,” said Andy Challenger at outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. He said there’s more e-commerce hiring.

“A big boom in the transportation and warehousing sectors, up about 137%,” he said.

That still only makes up about half the seasonal jobs missing from brick-and-mortar retailers, Challenger added.

There’s a slowdown for app-based gig workers, too. Last year, Joe Fifield drove for Uber and Lyft in Minneapolis to supplement his income. This year, he’s delivering for DoorDash and said it’s not as easy to make money.

You spend a lot more time driving with an empty car,” he said.

Fifield said he’s making about 20% less than last year.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What are the details of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan?

The $1.9 trillion plan would aim to speed up the vaccine rollout and provide financial help to individuals, states and local governments and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, while advancing his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. It would also include $1,400 checks for most Americans. Get the rest of the specifics here.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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