COVID & Unemployment

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

Mitchell Hartman Dec 24, 2020
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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
Heard on:
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

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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