Retail Hiring Pops Year Over Year

Retail (NYSEARCA:XRT) holiday employment was up 15 percent over last year, said outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. The firm also noted that seasonal hiring levels in the retail sector were only slightly lower than levels seen before the economic downturn.

The sector saw a net gain of 718,500 workers over the final three months of 2011, according to the firm’s analysis of employment data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s close to the 720,800 workers added in 2007, before the U.S. economy weakened.

Early sales and a strong Black Friday sales peformance likely contributed to more seasonal hirings in December, said the firm’s chief executive John A. Challenger, leading to better-than-expected job gains in the retail sector this year. He warned, however, that those gains could vanish in the coming months.

That would be bad news considering last Friday’s BLS unemployment report was considered an improvement. The 8.5% unemployment rate is the lowest since 2009.

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