Holiday job postings down from last year amid slowing economy

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TORONTO — Canadian postings for seasonal holiday jobs are down 30 per cent from a year ago so far, according to Indeed, amid a softening economy and cooling labour market.

“There’s been an overall cooling of employer hiring appetite over the past year. And it’s pretty similar in seasonal work and other areas of the economy as well, said Indeed senior economist Brendon Bernard.

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Overall Canadian job postings are also down 30 per cent from last year, though they’re up 18 per cent from pre-pandemic, Indeed said in a report released Nov. 9.

“Seasonal recruitment started slow in September this year, and while it picked up in October, it wasn’t enough to close the gap,” the hiring site said.

Meanwhile, holiday postings were around the same level as pre-pandemic. As a result, Indeed said holiday postings represent a smaller share of overall postings than they did in 2019.

While the slowing macroeconomic environment is likely to blame for overall lower postings, the slowdown in holiday job openings is likely also related to industry-specific trends like e-commerce and remote work, said Bernard.

Holiday job postings are predominantly for retail-related roles, Indeed said, noting that more than half of seasonal postings in October were for some form of sales associate or customer service representative.

Other seasonal postings include jobs driving delivery trucks or working in fulfilment centres, said Bernard.

Amid the decline in postings, job seeker searches looking for holiday work are higher this year than in recent years, which suggests it may be easier for employers to find seasonal work this year, Indeed said. This comes amid a slow weakening of the labour market, with a higher unemployment rate for workers aged 15 to 24 compared with the overall population, Indeed noted.

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“The elevated rate of seasonal searches could, at least in part, be a sign that job seekers aren’t as confident finding work elsewhere, at a time when the overall economic outlook is subdued,” the report said.

Seasonal job searches rebounded in 2022 after being lower in 2020 and 2021, said Bernard, but this year those searches are “pretty elevated compared to even where things were in 2019.”

This shifting balance may be good news for employers, but it’s also a symptom of a slowing economy, said Bernard.

“In previous years when the conditions have been stronger, people have been able to … shy away from seasonal work and find more permanent roles.”

The Canadian economy has been cooling under the weight of higher interest rates as inflation also winds down. Unemployment rose to 5.7 per cent in October, while preliminary data from Statistics Canada recently suggested the economy may have entered a technical recession.

In October, the Bank of Canada held its key rate steady at five per cent, but didn’t rule out more hikes if inflation data warranted them.

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“With clearer evidence that monetary policy is working, Governing Council’s collective judgment was that we could be patient and hold the policy rate at five per cent. We will continue with that to assess whether monetary policy is sufficiently restrictive, to restore price stability, and we will monitor risks closely,” Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said in a news conference at the time.

— With additional reporting from Nojoud Al Mallees

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