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Tight labor market making for holiday staffing crunch

The nation's low unemployment rate is having an impact on employers' seasonal hiring. The nation's low unemployment rate is having an impact on employers' seasonal hiring.

Faced with an unemployment rate of 4.2%, the lowest in more than a decade, a majority (72%) of employers are taking steps to accommodate today's tight labor market, according to a survey from Snagajob, a leading marketplace for hourly jobs. Employers are hiring seasonal workers later this year than last, offering more hours to current employees and retaining seasonal workers after the holidays to address staffing crunch. Some are even offering health benefits to seasonal hires.

The report found that employers are taking 14% longer to secure seasonal staff than they did in 2016. As a result, employers are finding new ways to bridge the gap: 35% plan to offer current employees more hours to cover open shifts, a third of hiring managers began recruiting for seasonal positions as early as September, and 25% are offering health insurance benefits to seasonal employees.

"In order to attract and retain top talent, employers need to give workers want they want most -- hours, schedule flexibility and stability," said Snagajob CEO Peter Harrison. "With most hourly job seekers able to secure a job in less than a week, it's clearly a job seeker's market, and employers must pay close attention to this group's preferences if they want to staff up adequately for the holidays."

Hiring managers are getting creative -- 51% of this year's seasonal hires will be rehires from last season, and 93% of employers plan to retain seasonal workers after the holidays are over. Additionally, 91% of hiring managers across all industries report they will pay seasonal employees more than the federal minimum wage this year.

Additional findings from Snagajob's holiday hiring and State of the Hourly Worker surveys include:

• The majority of employers (89%) plan on filling seasonal positions by November, which remains steady year over year. However, given the tight labor market, they recognize it will take longer to fill positions this year. In fact, only 43% expect to have positions filled by October, down from 55% last year.

• Likely in response to workers' demand for more hours, employers offering more than 20 hours a week increased almost 5% year over year.

• Seventy-five of hourly workers use mobile devices to search and apply for positions, up from 25% in 2012. This year, for the first time, job applications from mobile devices exceeded those from desktops and laptops.

• As in past years, retailers account for the majority of holiday hiring, including a fast growing range of fulfillment center jobs; Snagajob found that hourly workers are two times more likely to search for retail jobs than other industries.

For its holiday hiring report, Snagajob surveyed 1,000 employers from the nation's retail, restaurant and hospitality industries.
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