Low unemployment gives potential seasonal workers upper hand

Low unemployment gives potential seasonal workers upper hand

With 261,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy in October consumer confidence is up. Many businesses from big box stores, local shops, to grocers like Metcalfe’s want to capitalize on that, to do that they need competent seasonal workers to help.

However, businesses might have trouble filling seasonal shifts this year. U.S. employers hired at a strong pace in October, adding 261,000 jobs and unemployment is 4.1 percent, a 17-year low. Experts predict that will make hiring seasonal employees a bit trickier than years past.

Jerry O’Brien, a retail expert with University of Wisconsin-Madison said that while that unemployment rate being so low seems like a good thing it’s really a double-edged sword as we enter into the holiday shopping season. He said that’s because employers might have a harder time filling vacant positions.

Retailers are expecting to hire around 550,000 workers which is down from the 575,000 last year according to the National Retail Federation. However, companies like Amazon, UPS and Fed-Ex are hiring more employees so O’Brien said overall holiday employment number are up. O’Brien said that means potential employees have the upper hand this year.

“In the past you’d have a lot more supply and could say if you want to work for me ‘You have to work these specific hours,’ but it’s almost flipped now it’s like ‘well I work for you but here’s what I’ll do,'” O’Brien said.

Some employers are rethinking how they are dealing with the holiday hours for example Kohl’s announced it is going to hire less people, and give existing workers more hours and overtime.