(Bloomberg) -- US holiday hiring for retailers this year is estimated to be the lowest since the financial crisis as the labor market cools and interest rates rise, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Firms in the sector are only expected to add 410,000 positions in the fourth quarter, Challenger said, analyzing non-seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’d be the fewest since 2008.

Hiring has slowed this year as employment in several industries — including retail — now exceeds pre-pandemic levels, and businesses have pulled back on expansion plans with interest rates climbing. Labor costs are also still rising, and retail job cuts were six times in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period last year, Challenger said.

“With inflation slowing, companies, particularly retailers, won’t be able to pass increased labor costs to the consumer as easily,” Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at the firm, said in a statement Monday. “This could lead to more cuts, rather than more added positions, as evidenced by the increase in job cuts in this sector.”

Companies have been slow to lay out seasonal hiring plans. US-based firms have announced just 38,000 plans so far this year, compared to over 258,000 by this point in 2022, Challenger said.

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