Seasonal Unemployment

Definition: Seasonal unemployment occurs when people are unemployed at particular times of the year when demand for labour is lower than usual.


For example, in a Ski resort unemployment is likely to be higher in the summer when there is no snow.

Often unemployment falls around Christmas time because extra jobs are available (e.g. Royal Mail taking on extra workers for mail delivery)

In tourist areas, seasonal unemployment could be a big problem because work is only available for a few months a year.

How much of a problem is seasonal unemployment?

  • Having a job for six months of the year is better than having no job at all.
  • In tourist areas, workers may compensate for the seasonal nature of employment by saving during the tourist season and then doing other part-time jobs during the off-season
  • However, for those on low-income managing consumption over a year-long period can be difficult if employment is patchy. Whilst income may only come in for a few months a year, bills and rent will have to be paid every month.
  • Areas of the country with high seasonal unemployment may become unattractive and local workers leave to find more stable jobs elsewhere.
  • Depends on the flexibility of labour. Particular regions with seasonal demand may try to find ways to encourage temporary migration, e.g. student jobs for busy summer periods.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment figures

  • Because of seasonal unemployment, official government statistics on unemployment are often seasonally adjusted. This means the rate of unemployment is adjusted to take into account the usual seasonal fluctuations.

Solutions to seasonal unemployment

  • Try to diversify the economy. This could be hard to do in touristy areas.
  • Regulations which involve paying workers throughout the year, even if work is temporary.
  • Government creating jobs in the off-season to improve infrastructure.

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