In a brutal labor market, Target trims holiday hiring goals

National News

Customers arrive at a Target store, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in North Miami Beach, Fla. Target says Thursday, Sept. 23, it will hire fewer seasonal workers than last year and instead offer more hours to its current hourly staffers as it navigates a tight labor market. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

NEW YORK (AP) — Target will hire fewer seasonal workers this year as it navigates a tight labor market, instead offering more hours and flexibility to the employees it does have.

About 100,000 seasonal workers will be hired nationwide, the company said Thursday, about 30,000 less than last year. Many of those workers will be offered jobs beyond the holiday season.

Employers have struggled all year to find staff. They’ve increased hourly pay, announced signing bonuses and cast aside previous minimum standards like a high school diploma. They’re are also making applications more convenient. UPS this month said it will hire more than 100,000 people for the holiday rush and for many, a job offer from UPS will come within 30 minutes of applying.

In its own bid to attract more workers last month, Target said that it would spend $200 million over the next four years to offer its workers free undergraduate and associate degree programs as well as certificates in business-oriented majors at select institutions.

Target does not appear to be alone in the decision to lower its hiring goals. Global recruiting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas predicts retailers will add 700,000 workers during this year’s holiday season, over 36,000 fewer than in 2020. Hiring before the pandemic was particularly robust, however, and hires this year outpace those of 2019.

Retailers are focused more on hiring people who will stay rather than temporary, seasonal workers, said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

And employers are trying to better accommodate the workers they can find.

Target, based in Minneapolis, is allowing a lot more potential flexibility through a new mobile scheduling app that allows workers to choose shifts or swap with other employees.

Many of the jobs now held by Target employees did not exist before the pandemic. More workers are serving in roles that allow customers to pick up goods ordered online at the store, or to pick them up curbside. The number of positions dedicated to getting customers what they want, where they want it, has tripled over the past two years, according to Target.

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