Snag Report: Expect Fierce Competition for Holiday Hiring

Employers including restaurants, retailers and hotels expect to be filling more jobs and offering significantly higher wages than they did last year in order to attract seasonal workers in the fourth quarter, according to the 2018 11th Annual Holiday Hiring Survey released by Snag.

According to Snag's nationwide survey of hourly employers, the average hourly wage for seasonal workers is expected to jump nearly 32 percent, from $11.70 in 2017 to $15.40 this year. Retail is leading the way in expected seasonal wage growth, jumping by as much as 54 percent, with hospitality companies forecasting increases of 51 percent, and restaurant wages rising around 33 percent. In addition to paying more, employers will begin recruiting earlier than usual in order to attract talent in the tightest labor market in nearly two decades.

snag wages

Additional findings from the report include:

  • The number of companies that began recruiting in August or earlier more than doubled compared with last year.

  • In the restaurant industry, the hottest hourly positions this holiday season will be servers, dishwashers and cashiers.

  • Managing employee schedules during the holiday period is expected to be one of the biggest challenges according to 54 percent of employers.

  • The lack of qualified workers and competition from other employers are the major challenges employers are facing as they seek to fill jobs.

  • More than a third (37 percent) of employers expect to rehire between one and five employees from the 2017 holiday season.

  • A majority of employers (62 percent) have increased their use of social media to recruit hourly workers this year.

With more employers saying they’ll need extra workers this year (84 percent versus 77 percent in 2017), the competition for skilled hourly employees is expected to be fierce, and 86 percent of employers say they will struggle to fill temporary seasonal positions. To attract workers, a majority of employers (77 percent) say they’ll be offering perks and benefits including paid time off, training opportunities, childcare, tuition stipends, health insurance, and even transportation reimbursement.

average wage

“A growing number of hourly employers understand that having the best workers improves the customer experience and increases revenue,” said Snag CEO Fabio Rosati. “In order to attract and retain the most qualified seasonal workers, many companies are stepping up their game and offering more hours and benefits, higher wages, and flexible schedules.”

"Managers’ anticipation for increased hiring this holiday season reflects optimism about the fourth quarter and the ongoing strength of the U.S. economy. But with unemployment at record low levels, businesses are recognizing that they’ll likely need to offer workers more money and other perks if they are to be competitive in this very tight labor market. That could be good news for workers, who may finally see bigger paychecks after years of wage stagnation,” said Dr. Terry Clower, Director for the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.

hiring challenges

Data for the report was conducted by Wakefield Research, which surveyed 1,000 employers with hiring responsibilities, specifically targeting the nation’s retail, restaurant and hospitality industries.