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Help Not Wanted? Openings and Hires are Down for Retail and Transportation Employers Heading into the Holiday Season, according to iCIMS Data

New iCIMS report reveals that while employer activity is slowing in industries impacted by consumer holiday spending, job seeker interest remains strong heading into peak shopping season

iCIMS, a leading provider of talent acquisition technology, today released the iCIMS Insights October Workforce Report, revealing hirings and job openings in retail and transportation industries are down, despite these employers preparing for what is historically their busiest season of the year. The new data found that hires and openings in retail have decreased by 12% and 25%, respectively, from this time last year, while the transportation sector saw declines of 22% and 2%.

Drawn from its proprietary database of employer and job seeker activity, the new report indicates that, while employers in these industries are tapping the brakes on massive seasonal hiring, applications for these roles remain high, creating a more competitive market for job seekers. Whether this trend points to a cooling economy, the impact of rising retention rates or the start of an end-of-year slowdown for the labor market has yet to be determined. 

“In two years, we’ve seen a shift in these industries from hiring teams looking for warm bodies to fill roles to an influx in applicants,” said Rhea Moss, global head of workforce and customer insights, iCIMS. “There’s a lot less pressure now to hire just anyone and teams have the chance to be a little more tactical in their hiring as they approach their busy season.”

The state of the talent market

  • Déjà vu all over again? While employer activity has remained steady throughout 2023, overall hires and job openings took a slight dip last month (down 1% and 2% from January 2022, respectively), a possible indication of a season slowdown following the long Labor Day weekend, which mirrors last year.
  • Applications remain high. Applications across industries are up 51% from the start of last year, showing a strong candidate pool for talent leaders to choose from.
  • Slimmed down TA teams keep hiring moving. Time to fill has kept a steady pace all year at just about six weeks, despite overburdened talent acquisition teams and an influx of applications. As these teams continue to work at a fervent pace, candidates for recruiter positions may be waving their white flag – applications for these roles decreased by 20% since last month.
  • Job seekers pay attention to headlines. From negative coverage on the rise of retail theft across the country to the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike, candidates are reconsidering where and when they apply. In the week following the UAW going on strike, manufacturing applications saw a dip of about 10%. This aligns with data in the iCIMS Class of 2023 Report where recent graduates said they would not apply to a company that had recently received bad publicity.

Holiday Hiring Trends  

  • Hiring for transportation roles has declined. In September 2022, hires were up 30% from the start of the year. Now, transportation hires are down 1% from January 2022, a possible byproduct of increased retention rates following the “official” end of The Great Resignation in June 2023. 
  • Employers have a stocking full of applicants. While hiring and openings are down across retail and transportation, application volume remains robust at a 13% increase for the transportation sector and 46% increase for retail from September 2022.
  • Mobile devices are on the rise. With more than half (52%) of all applications coming from job seekers’ phones, mobile applications are key for finding applicants. This is especially true for retail job seekers – 72% of retail applicants came via mobile devices, compared to just 28% from desktop.
  • Looking for holiday workers? Check Indeed. When it comes to finding a job this holiday season, retail and transportation applicants show a strong preference for Indeed (66% and 45%, respectively) above other popular job boards like Google and LinkedIn. For transportation roles, LinkedIn did not fall too far behind, accounting for 42% of transportation applicant activity.