In anticipation of a blockbuster holiday shopping season, FedEx is currently hiring for more than 70,000 seasonal roles, the company confirmed to FN today.
“As our team of more than 500,000 team members is busy preparing to deliver the holidays, we once again expect to see a large number of packages traverse our global network over the 2020 peak holiday shipping season,” FedEx said in a statement. “In order to provide the best possible service during this busy time of the year, FedEx is increasing hours for some existing employees and boosting our workforce with seasonal positions, as needed. Currently, we expect to add more than 70,000 positions in the lead-up to this peak season, with the majority of those added to the FedEx Ground network.”
The number of expected hirees at FedEx marks a 27% rise from the 55,000 workers it hired last year and is likely music to the ears of retailers that have been struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, which in early April forced the closures of thousands of nonessential stores and continues to dent discretionary spending for Americans facing unprecedented levels of unemployment.
FedEx’s indication that it expects to deliver a larger-than-usual number of packages could signal that a retail rebound is on the way — and also coincides with retailers’ massive shift in resources to digital as consumers stay close to home amid ongoing fears surrounding the contagious COVID-19 disease. Add to that the fact that second-quarter earnings reports from shoe players such as Shoe Carnival and Journeys parent Genesco suggest the back-to-school shopping season has been pushed into Q3 in tandem with rapidly-changing plans across U.S. school districts, retailers may get a double boost in the second half of the year.
What’s more, FedEx’s massive hiring spree could give a much-needed boost to the U.S. economy: Since mid-March, more than 59 million Americans have submitted jobless claims, and the road to employment recovery has been uneven.
The Labor Department announced yesterday that first-time jobless claims for the week ended Aug. 29 fell by 130,000 to 881,000 — only the second time it came in below a million amid the COVID-19 health crisis. What’s more, continuing claims, which paints a broader picture of unemployment in the country and lags jobless data by one week, dropped by 1.24 million to 13.25 million.
A similar trend happened in August: For the week ended Aug. 8, the government recorded fewer than a million such claims — about 963,000 — for the first time in five months, leading many to hope that the country was at the beginning of an upswing. However, the numbers reversed course and held steady for a couple weeks, signaling that macroeconomic challenges could be persistent — particularly if Congress cannot come to an agreement on another sweeping stimulus plan.
In recent weeks, states have started stepping in to provide additional benefits to unemployed Americans through “Low Wage Assistance” grants offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grants, which were initiated by President Donald Trump through one of his executive orders in early August, allocated $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to aid those who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
In recent months, the U.S.’s efforts to get the economy fully up and running have encountered several hurdles, including a surge in COVID-19 infections in a number of southern and western states, which have caused local governments to reinforce lockdowns and restrictions on nonessential businesses. This has forced a slew of stores and offices to temporarily shutter their doors once again and push more workers back to unemployment.