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Challenges filling seasonal roles in tight labour market

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Indeed finds the seasonal jobs market slowly defrosting post-pandemic  

Employers face a struggle to hire seasonal workers in time for Christmas as interest in jobs lags behind pre-pandemic levels.  

Data from the leading hiring platform Indeed shows holiday job searches have risen above their pandemic lows yet remain below 2019 pre-crisis levels. The waning interest suggests employers are struggling to fill seasonal positions amid a tight labour market and persistent staff shortages in some sectors.      

The decline comes as employers begin ramping up hiring ahead of the festive period and shopping events like Black Friday. 

As of 1 October 2022, seasonal job postings were flat (+1%) compared to the same day in 2021 but were 25% below where they were pacing in 2019. 

However, amid the tightest UK labour market on record, seasonal searches are down 17% from 2019 (and down 23% from 2018), suggesting employers may continue to find it challenging to hire all the seasonal help they need. 

Jobseekers also continue to search for remote work opportunities with increasing frequency: almost 3% of all searches on Indeed contain terms related to remote working, a record high, yet remote work is rarely feasible for seasonal roles.

Retail recovery driving seasonal hiring 

Retail and sales jobs, which took a big hit during the height of the pandemic as in-store footfall was severely curtailed, are pacing strongly this year with the share of seasonal roles in the sales category at 36% and retail at 33%. 

Retail is also the sector that has bounced back strongest since the pandemic with job postings increasing by 125% compared to February 2020 followed by logistics & stocking, where postings have also more than doubled (121%). 

The Christmas shopping spree is also creating roles in other parts of the economy: shares of seasonal jobs in the driving, food preparation & service and loading & stocking categories are similar to last year and close to pre-pandemic levels.  Top Christmas hirers include supermarkets, cosmetics, toys, clothing and jewellery stores, as well as suppliers of grottos.

Jack Kennedy, UK Economist at the leading hiring platform Indeed, said:

“Christmas hiring is well underway, but filling vacancies could prove challenging in an incredibly tight labour market, with jobseeker interest yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. Encouragingly, sectors which typically offer numerous seasonal jobs, like retail, logistics and hospitality, have been hiring in large volumes for the past 18 months since reopening. Cost-of-living pressures could prompt more people to look for seasonal work over the winter, but it remains to be seen how much of an effect this has on hiring conditions.”  

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