Shortage of Employees Could Leave Holiday Jobs Unfilled

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Seasonal hiring is set to increase by a “healthy margin” during this year’s fourth quarter, according to a recent Career Builder report.

“More than half (53 percent) of retailers plan to hire seasonal employees in Q4 up from 43 percent last year,” according to Career Builder. In more good news, the study found that many seasonal employees should expect to earn higher hourly wages thanks to increases in the minimum wage “implemented at federal and state levels and among large name brands.”

In fact, 37 percent of employers plan to raise salaries for seasonal employees by 10 percent over last year’s salaries. Seventy-two percent of employers plan to pay seasonal employees at least $10 per hour while 19 percent claim they will pay them at least $16 per hour. Seasonal employment opportunities are predicted to be most abundant in the western part of the country.

The news reflects the strength of the economy and the labor market. “As logistics, freight and cargo companies feel the effects of online retailing, we are seeing an increase in seasonal hiring at distribution facilities nationwide to meet customer’s requirements and deliver online orders faster. Openings are dominated by jobs such as material handling and supervisors, and there are positive economic indicators even past the holidays. Employers are in need of positions ranging from skilled trades to professional services to support the overall distribution operation,” says Aerotek’s Director of Business Development, Kirk Hardy.

“You’ve got the best employment situation in about eight years,” agrees Darrin Duber-Smith, a marketing professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “You’ve got a very, very tight labor market. You’ve got full employment which means that there aren’t as many people looking for work and meanwhile, you’ve got retailers who need tens of thousands of additional workers … Retailers are going to have to act like marketers,” says Duber-Smith. “Instead of attracting customers, they’re going to have to start attracting employees.”

For example, “UPS announced in September that it would hire up to 95,000 seasonal workers this year, including package handlers and drivers,” says Susan Adams of Forbes. “UPS competitor FedEx is hiring at least 50,000 temporary workers. Meantime Amazon is hiring what may be the largest single holiday workforce of 100,000 people, a 25 percent hike from last year. The Amazon workers will mostly be in warehouses, fulfilling orders.”

One way that companies can cope with this year’s staffing shortages is by turning to staffing agencies. “Organizations are partnering with staffing agencies like Aerotek to help support their short term needs, as well as gain access to the best talent available as e-commerce sales continue to increase. Since August and September, we have been partnering with one of the world’s largest delivery service companies to prepare candidate pipelines to meet high volume hiring needs,” says Aerotek’s Director of Divisional Operations, Sara Staggs. “We expect to see this trend continue as the labor market tightens.”

“Staffing agencies have a larger network of available workers than do many employers,” says Ruth Mayhew, writing for the Houston Chronicle. “Employers looking to hire seasonal workers, for example, would need to advertise job openings, interview candidates and process new hire documentation for a relatively short period of employment. Staffing agencies, on the other hand, may have relationships with workers they’ve already identified as dependable, reliable and conscientious and who can fill a vacancy in a matter of days, or even hours,” reports Mayhew.

Mario McKellop of agrees. “With 22 percent of the current U.S. workforce being composed of temporary workers, cost conscious small business owners would be smart to consider employing a temp agency to fulfill their short-term staffing needs.”

Small businesses that use staffing agencies minimize costs, conserve time spent on interviews and onboarding, take fewer risks in hiring, have the flexibility they need to increase and decrease their workforces as circumstances demand, and may find employees with more specialized skills.