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2016 Salary Trends in Seasonal Hiring

2016 Salary Trends in Seasonal Hiring

By: Catherine Conlan 

“Seasonal hiring” used to simply mean adding a handful of sales associates at retail locations for the months of November and December, says Lauren Griffin, senior vice president at Adecco Staffing USA.

But with evolving customer behaviors, businesses in some industries now hire thousands of additional workers to take on the holiday shopping season.

Last year, the winter holiday season alone brought in $616 billion in retail sales at large chain stores — a 4% increase over the previous year — and employers of all sizes can expect a busy season in 2016, Griffin says. 

As a result, the competition for skilled talent that can deliver quality customer service will encourage employers to offer competitive wages, particularly as the job market continues to tighten, she adds.

While it is difficult to identify rates at which wages are rising because of all the variables that go into hiring seasonal workers, companies should be aware that wage rates for seasonal workers are up this year compared with last year, says Katie Bardaro, vice president of analytics at PayScale

Low unemployment and higher consumer activity have been driving up wage rates, says Bardaro. For example, Amazon announced it would hire about 100,000 seasonal warehouse workers this holiday season.

The factors that are driving higher salaries for seasonal positions in the coming months are interconnected.

More Customers, More Customer Service
A stronger economy means more people are buying, and as a result retail and delivery will need more employees to meet demand in several sectors. “Increased consumer demand is driving employer demand for seasonal help across the retail industry, manufacturing, warehousing, call centers and other industries,” Griffin says.

Lower Unemployment and Seasonal Hiring
Lower unemployment means people who were underemployed or unemployed have found jobs and aren’t looking for seasonal work to make money. “There is so much demand for seasonal staff that businesses are in tight competition with one another to secure top talent. This is especially true for businesses in regions where the seasonal hiring pool is limited,” Griffin says. “This demand encourages employers to offer higher wages or incentives for seasonal workers to ensure they can handle the increase in activity around the holidays.”

Upward Seasonal Wage Pressure
A low unemployment rate has a greater effect on the lower-level salaries that many seasonal positions offer, says Bardaro. “With the unemployment rate decreasing like it is, we expect that to put upward wage pressure on lower salaries, and that includes seasonal workers.” In addition, a higher minimum wage in some areas may put an upward pressure on lower-level salaries as a whole.

Griffin says a recent Adecco Staffing USA survey found that gaining additional cash was the main reason people would consider a seasonal job (76 percent). If the employer isn’t able to offer a higher starting wage, Adecco recommends using other incentives such as tuition assistance and flexible hours to recruit the top talent needed to compete.