Seasonal hiring at U.S. retail was back to normal in the Christmas shopping season, with stores hiring about as many seasonal (temporary) workers as they did pre-recession. This does not mean, however, that retail is back to where it was — far from it. Retailers are keeping fewer permanent workers, knowing that they can hire additional workers virtually at will. This is a pattern that will continue as long as so many skilled workers are unemployed. Retailers won’t have a reason to build their permanent staffing levels back up until after they come to a Christmas season in which they can’t quite hire the people they need. The way things are going, that may not happen until 2018.