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Employment spikes in retail trade around the holidays, 2012–17

| December 2017

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.

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.

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

Suggested citation:

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

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