E-commerce Dominates Holiday Hires in Oregon

A study from the Oregon Employment Department has revealed how holiday employment patterns have shifted since 2001    

In “Unwrapping Holiday Hiring,” Employment Economist Anna Johnson analyzes Oregon’s “holiday buildup” for the past 18 years. At first glance, the figures are somewhat disheartening: 2018 saw 8,929 holiday hires, a buildup of seven percent, comparable to the low years of 2008 and 2009 during the financial crisis. Overall, holiday buildup has decreased by 2 percent since 2001.  

However, certain industries are booming, most notably private sector delivery services: 3,013 new couriers and messengers were hired in 2018, near doubling the average buildup of 2001-2008. Postal services also beat their previous average with 458 new hires, bringing them closer to pre-2007 rates.  

Clothing and accessory stores, general merchandise stores, and health and personal care stores brought a significant number of new jobs as well.  

Johnson also compared the rate of buildup between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce industries. Notably, she included warehouse and storage services under the umbrella of e-commerce, which completely recontextualized Oregon’s holiday growth.  

With warehouses added to the mix, hiring patterns appear steady from 2010 onward, peaking in 2014 at 12,180, with 2018 coming in just shy of that. The real change has occurred in the percentage of brick-and-mortar vs. e-commerce jobs. In 2001, brick-and-mortar made up 74.7 percent of holiday hires, shrinking to 68.9 percent in 2014. By 2018, e-commerce had taken the lead with 56.2 percent of holiday jobs.  

“It’s difficult to know what future seasonal hiring patterns of retailers will be as consumers make more of their purchases online,” Johnson writes. “Parcel deliverers will no doubt continue hiring holiday workers to deliver those extra packages to all the good kids, but local stores may not need to hire as many holiday workers as in past years if their customers are doing less shopping in person.   

“However, traditional brick and mortar retailers may be offering more online shopping options in the future and may still require more workers during the holidays, just in different occupations.”  

By Brandon Urey