‘A workers’ market’
With holiday hiring in full swing, some industries find themselves in a precarious position as recruiters seek to add to their payrolls amid an unemployment rate that is now at a 17-year low of 4.1%.
When UPS lured holiday job seekers recently to its Columbus, Ohio, package sorting center, it turned the dreary process of interviews and background checks into a full-blown party complete with candy and movie-ticket giveaways.
Faced with a shrinking labor pool and a need to fill
95,000 extra jobs this holiday season, the Louisvillebased delivery giant has been scrambling to find innovative ways to tempt potential employees — including turning recruiting sessions into celebrations.
It’s not just UPS. As the holidays draw closer and holiday hiring is in full swing, industries across the board are feeling the unintended side effects of a falling unemployment rate— now at a 17-year low of
4.1%. But retail, food services and delivery, industries that are an essential part of the holiday grind, are among the most vulnerable.
“It’s definitely a workers’ market,” says Peter Harrison, CEO of Snagajob, an online job search engine,
who says companies on the platform are increasingly struggling to find workers. “No question about it. Right now, employers are having to do everything they can to lure people in.”
Starting with pay. Hooplas and giveaways aside, companies know nothing can help them sign up workers faster than the prospect of more cold hard cash and benefits:
❚ Target. The retailer recently announced it’s increasing the hourly minimum wage to $11, with plans to go as high as $15 an hour by 2020.
❚ J.C. Penney. The department store chain will
“Employers are having to do everything they can to lure people in.” Peter Harrison CEO of Snagajob
start offering paid time off, up to one week a year, to eligible part-time employees in early 2018.
❚ UPS. The deliverer with the brown trucks offers weekly retention bonuses, up to $200 a week, as a reward to employees who work every day.
As for getting out the word, that’s where the parties come in. “The competition for workers means we’ve got to be creative,” says Dan McMackin, a UPS spokesperson.
Areas with unemployment levels below the national average have been hit the hardest.
In Columbus, for instance, where UPS held is recent holiday recruiting party, the unemployment rate was 3.8% in September, compared to the U.S. rate of 4.2% (the national rate dipped to 4.1% in October).
Last summer, in Fort Collins, Colo., where the unemployment rate was 1.9% in September, second lowest in the nation, Abbie Lowe, was struggling to staff her store, Neighborhood Liquors. She had a sign on the door for more than a month in addition to the ads posted on Craigslist. Lowe got four résumés.
“Typically, we had a bigger pool to select potential employees from,” Lowe says.
“But there are jobs everywhere here. Even day laborers are getting jobs all the time. We can’t keep anyone in here.”
The low unemployment rate means companies are making extraordinary attempts to find and retain talent. KEITH SRAKOCIC/AP