iCIMS report: Hires and openings are down heading into the holidays

Abstract blur and defocused shopping mall of department store interior for background

Looking at this month’s hiring data is a bit like stepping in a time machine and landing back at this time last year. Just like in September 2022, data released Thursday from iCIMS shows we started to see a dip in labor market activity last month.

Hires and openings in retail have decreased by 12% and 25%, respectively, from this time last year, while the transportation sector saw declines of 22% and 2%, according to the Holmdel-based talent acquisition firm’s Insights October Workforce Report.

Drawn from its database of employer and job-seeker activity, the new report indicates that, while employers in these industries are tapping the brakes on massive seasonal hiring, applications for these roles remain high, creating a more competitive market for job-seekers. Whether this trend points to a cooling economy, the impact of rising retention rates or the start of an end-of-year slowdown for the labor market has yet to be determined.

“In two years, we’ve seen a shift in these industries from hiring teams looking for warm bodies to fill roles to an influx in applicants,” Rhea Moss, global head of workforce and customer insights, iCIMS, said. “There’s a lot less pressure now to hire just anyone, and teams have the chance to be a little more tactical in their hiring as they approach their busy season.”

Other data on the state of the talent market

  • While employer activity has remained steady throughout 2023, overall hires and job openings took a slight dip last month (down 1% and 2% from January 2022, respectively);
  • Applications across industries are up 51% from the start of last year, showing a strong candidate pool for talent leaders to choose from;
  • Time to fill has kept a steady pace all year at just about six weeks, despite overburdened talent acquisition teams and an influx of applications;
  • Job seekers pay attention to headlines. From negative coverage on the rise of retail theft across the country to the United Auto Workers strike, candidates are reconsidering where and when they apply. In the week following the UAW going on strike, manufacturing applications saw a dip of about 10%.

Holiday hiring trends

  • Hiring for transportation roles has declined — down 1% from January 2022;
  • While hiring and openings are down across retail and transportation, application volume remains robust, at a 13% increase for the transportation sector and 46% increase for retail from September 2022;
  • More than half (52%) of all applications are coming from job seekers’ phones;
  • Indeed seems to be the place to go to find a job this holiday season. Retail and transportation applicants show a strong preference for Indeed (66% and 45%, respectively). LinkedIn did not fall too far behind, accounting for 42% of transportation applicant activity.