In the blink of an eye, fall is here and the weather is getting cooler, which means it’s time to start thinking about seasonal hiring. No matter whether you’re hiring retail workers, customer service associates or a professional Santa Claus, seasonal hiring will look different this year.  

While the introduction of coronavirus vaccines this spring has helped ease the public health crisis, the virus is still present and things are not yet back to normal, impacting both the labor market and consumer behavior. 

To learn more about the state of seasonal jobs, we spoke with Indeed economist AnnElizabeth Konkel about her research on this topic

What are the key findings?

In the seven days ending September 22, the share of seasonal job postings per million on Indeed’s U.S. site was down 30% compared to the share in 2020 and down 23% compared to that of 2019. 

However, while seasonal job postings are down compared to previous years, they have started to climb in recent months. The low share of seasonal job postings may also be due to the fact that employers have been hiring at an elevated pace in 2021, which means they may not require as many seasonal workers as they did in prior years. 

Line graph: Share of Christmas and seasonal jobs per million through September 22.

Source: Indeed
Line graph titled “US holiday postings share below previous years.” With a vertical axis ranging 0 to 20,000, Indeed tracked the share of Christmas and seasonal jobs per million along a horizontal axis ranging from July to January with different colored lines representing 2019, 2020, and 2021. As of September 22, 2021, seasonal job postings were 30% below where they were in 2020 and 23% below 2019.

In addition, in the seven days ending September 22, 10.1% of seasonal job postings indicated that hiring was urgent in the job description — a significant increase from just 1.0% the year before. 

This urgency is also reflected in the rise of seasonal job postings that offer hiring incentives, such as signing bonuses or cash incentives. In fact, as of September 22, 3.5% of seasonal job postings advertised hiring incentives, up from less than 1% the previous year.  

Bar chart: Percentage of Christmas and seasonal jobs, September 22.

Source: Indeed
Bar chart titled “Greater urgency to hire for seasonal jobs this year.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 10%, Indeed compared the percentage of Christmas and seasonal jobs advertising hiring incentives and percentage of seasonal jobs hiring urgently with different colored bars representing 2020 and 2021. As of September 22, 2021, 10.1% of seasonal job postings mention hiring urgently in the job description compared with 1.0% in 2020.

However, while employers are urgently looking for employees to fill their seasonal positions, job seekers don't seem to be as interested. 

In the seven days ending September 22, the share of job seeker searches for seasonal work was down 1.5% compared to the same time one year ago and down 39% compared to the same time in 2019. Overall, “holiday hiring is a microcosm of what we’re seeing broadly,” says AnnElizabeth. 

What does this mean for job seekers? 

Currently, job seeker interest in seasonal work is low. There are many factors contributing to decreased job search interest, including COVID-19 concerns, childcare challenges, reliance on an employed partner or reliance on a temporary financial cushion.

This means that job seekers who are looking for seasonal jobs have a good chance of finding seasonal work. In this hiring environment, they would be well advised to explore different options and know what different employers are offering in terms of compensation, perks and benefits if possible in order to receive the best opportunity. 

What does this mean for employers?

The rise in urgent seasonal job postings is “concerning,” remarks AnnElizabeth. With job seeker interest in seasonal jobs lower than previous years, employers who want to hire seasonal workers must ramp up their hiring efforts in order to do so. Now more than ever, employers must pull out all the stops when attracting seasonal employees or risk being understaffed for the holidays. 

“My advice for employers looking for seasonal workers is start now,” says AnnElizabeth. “Do not wait later into the season because you may really feel a big crunch.”

Employers should pay close attention to what their competitors are offering and also consider offering bonuses or hiring incentives in order to make the offer more appealing to job seekers. In addition, they should consider offering desirable work benefits such as flexibility with scheduling and competitive pay if possible. 

For example, Kohl’s, which hopes to bring on 90,000 workers this holiday season, is offering a bonus of between $100 and $400 for all hourly holiday employees. Target, another big-box retailer that plans to hire 100,000 employees this holiday season, launched an app this past summer that makes it easier for store members to adjust their schedules and have flexibility. 

The app allows staff to choose times or swap hours on demand, adjusting for obligations like parenting or attending college classes. Target also raised the company’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, which went into effect this July. These and other changes have been successful with employees: Over the past two years, turnover at Target has fallen to a five-year low.


If interest from job seekers in seasonal jobs doesn’t pick up soon, holiday hiring will be greatly affected. According to AnnElizabeth, consumers may experience longer lines at stores, lower stock in stores and longer wait times for online orders. As a consumer, the best way to prevent this is to do your holiday shopping early. 

We can’t predict whether employers who need seasonal workers will find themselves understaffed during the holidays. As of now, all we can do is wait and see how this trend plays out. The Hiring Lab will continue to keep an eye on seasonal hiring trends and whether interest in these jobs picks up.