Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Employment spikes in retail trade around the holidays, 2012–17

| December 2017

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In retail trade, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. And preparing for extra business usually means increased hiring, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Employment in the retail trade industry typically rises in the final months of the year, a time when businesses expect a surge of holiday customers. The chart illustrates a pattern in retail: Employment gains from October through December are followed by losses in January and February. Also, increases in summer employment are surpassed by the spikes that accompany the holiday shopping season.

View Chart Data

Employment in the retail trade industry, October 2012 to October 2017
Year Employment

Oct-2012

14,871,500

Nov-2012

15,356,900

Dec-2012

15,456,500

Jan-2013

14,728,900

Feb-2013

14,514,200

Mar-2013

14,574,400

Apr-2013

14,664,400

May-2013

14,769,600

Jun-2013

15,039,200

Jul-2013

15,091,000

Aug-2013

15,125,800

Sep-2013

15,046,800

Oct-2013

15,206,400

Nov-2013

15,649,500

Dec-2013

15,833,600

Jan-2014

14,852,100

Feb-2014

14,666,300

Mar-2014

14,705,400

Apr-2014

14,802,700

May-2014

14,926,300

Jun-2014

15,348,400

Jul-2014

15,382,900

Aug-2014

15,374,000

Sep-2014

15,292,900

Oct-2014

15,475,700

Nov-2014

15,887,900

Dec-2014

16,042,000

Jan-2015

15,164,900

Feb-2015

14,946,100

Mar-2015

15,009,500

Apr-2015

15,130,600

May-2015

15,232,700

Jun-2015

15,614,300

Jul-2015

15,640,500

Aug-2015

15,620,200

Sep-2015

15,507,000

Oct-2015

15,690,300

Nov-2015

16,089,600

Dec-2015

16,215,300

Jan-2016

15,414,900

Feb-2016

15,238,900

Mar-2016

15,305,300

Apr-2016

15,395,400

May-2016

15,524,200

Jun-2016

15,840,900

Jul-2016

15,862,700

Aug-2016

15,851,700

Sep-2016

15,734,900

Oct-2016

15,884,300

Nov-2016

16,243,700

Dec-2016

16,375,900

Jan-2017

15,619,500

Feb-2017

15,480,500

Mar-2017

15,570,500

Apr-2017

15,641,100

May-2017

15,736,300

Jun-2017

15,837,700

Jul-2017

15,842,700

Aug-2017

15,812,100

Sep-2017

15,691,000

Oct-2017

15,827,700

Note: Data are not seasonally adjusted. Data for September 2017 and October 2017 are preliminary.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics.

The data presented are from the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, a monthly survey of businesses. CES produces estimates like those in this chart for the nation and for states and metropolitan areas.

About the Author

Domingo Angeles is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. He can be reached at angeles.domingo@bls.gov .

Suggested citation:

Domingo Angeles, "Employment spikes in retail trade around the holidays, 2012–17," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2017.

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/careeroutlook Contact Career Outlook

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