It's that time of the year when retailers operating in the U.S. begin dribbling out statistics on holiday hires, a closely watched batch of communications considered an important economic indicator of how the country's most important spending season will perform on a given year.
Major retailer Kohl's Corporation (NYSE:KSS), based in Menomonee Falls, Wis., has been the first major merchandiser and employer out of the gate, announcing on Tuesday its seasonal hiring number: It's up 10 percent to 52,700 temporary jobs, not including the 5,700 distribution workers.
That's more than half of the 96,000 workers the Department of Labor said found work nationwide in August and about 19 percent of the estimated 495,000 seasonal jobs created in the retail sector in the last holiday season, according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Retailers usually start hiring floor staff in September. By Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving that marks the busiest shopping day of the year -- they are operating at the year's highest level of staffing.
With the Nov. 6 presidential elections happening during this ramp-up employment period, many will be watching closely to see how this year's seasonal employment compares to previous years.
Though forecasts have yet to be released, the economy would need to employ more than 637,000 seasonal workers in retail to beat the pre-economic-downturn number in 2007, but will most likely be higher than 2008 and 2009.
In the previous two years, seasonal hiring has been close to 500,000, so a number higher than that would suggest job creation is moving in a more positive direction while a number lower than the previous two years would hint at a double-dip recession.
Key retailers expected to announce their seasonal hires soon include: Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), Macy's Inc. (NYSE:M), J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) and privately held Toys R Us Ltd.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), the world's largest retailer, doesn't release U.S. holiday seasonal-hiring numbers.