With the unemployment rate under 3% in Idaho, fewer people will be in search of seasonal work this year.
Sam Wolkenhauer, northern regional economist for the Idaho Department of Labor, told the Idaho Press companies looking to hire seasonal employees in 2019 may have to change their hiring tactics and offer more incentives to hire the workers they need.
“There are not a lot of people to choose from,” Wolkenhauer said. “So you are competing for a small pool of workers.”
Dan McMackin, spokesperson for United Parcel Service, or UPS, said the company is looking to add 200 seasonal employees in the Boise area.
“That’s about the same as last year at this point,” said McMackin. “The pay range is from $14, up from $11 last year, up to about $30 an hour depending on the job.”
McMackin said that UPS seasonal jobs do not end on Dec. 24, like many retailers.
“We keep our seasonal folks on through January,” said McMackin, who started with the company as a seasonal employee 41 years ago. “And also unique is the fact that as many as 35% of our seasonal hires will come back permanently with us each season.”
Like UPS, Wolkenhauer said, “companies will have to offer higher wages, because they are bidding against each other or will have to come up with other ways to recruit people.”
Steven Guadagno, vice president at Adecco USA, a national employment agency with an office in Meridian, agreed with Wolkenhauer, saying the agency is seeing employers having to rethink their offerings and get creative to attract top talent.
“Job seekers are looking for extra benefits like flexible scheduling, remote working and opportunities for career advancement,” Guadagno said.
He said that Adecco did a survey of employers nationally and found 37% of them said they have loosened job requirements to recruit talent. The study also found 70% of companies are offering flexible schedules for employees, with 62% of them are offering more shift options and 39% are giving the option for employees to select their own schedules.
Carol Poole, manager for the Santa House in The Village at Meridian, said she had a hard time finding workers for the seasonal day shifts she needed to fill.
Poole started looking in late October for people to work as helpers for the Santa House. Poole hires workers to organize children and their families waiting in line for photos with Santa, take photos of kids sitting on Santa’s lap and sell the photos.
She met her goal and hired five employees this year.
“Most of them are still in school, and it was really hard to find people to work during the day,” Poole said. “For the most part, I have all ones that are still in high school and one lady who has a second job.”
Poole said this is her first time hiring people for work in Idaho, but she could not have predicted how hard it would be to find workers. She didn’t have to add any incentives, but it did take longer than she thought to hire people.
“I had a difficult time finding what I needed to find,” she said. “I still see there are a lot of places around here still hiring.”
Guadagno said with the tight labor market and so many job openings, employers are seeing more candidates “ghosting” jobs, where candidates will initially accept a job offer, and then end up choosing a more competitive offer from another company and not show up to work with the original company.
Tom Knight, who runs the Hickory Farms warehouse and retail locations in the Treasure Valley, said he hasn’t run into a difficulty over the last few years hiring seasonal workers.
Hickory Farms, which is only open for the holiday season, does not do any advertising for jobs in their Treasure Valley locations and warehouse, he said, adding most of his workers return to work year after year during the holidays.
“Most of our employees look forward to this season and consider this their fun job,” Knight said.
“We have the luxury of almost everyone coming back,” Knight added. “We did not hire any new employees to the Karcher Mall location and only added about four workers to the Treasure Valley Marketplace location.”
He said the new hires come from recommendations from friends and relatives who already work for Hickory Farms. The warehouse and stores have 160 employees.
Postal delivery services also find themselves in their busiest weeks of the year during the holidays. This year, the U.S. Postal Service in southern Idaho hired about 100 seasonal employees, with most coming from the Treasure Valley, according to a Postal Service spokesperson.
According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the Treasure Valley added 1,200 jobs last year from October to December, the typical seasonal hiring window. The Department of Labor did not have seasonal hiring numbers for 2019 yet.
Theresa Hardin, executive director of the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, said most small businesses in Caldwell don’t hire seasonal staff for the holiday season, yet larger businesses rely on seasonal employees.
Larger retailers and mailing centers in the Treasure Valley did not have specific numbers for how many people they hire in Idaho, but did have nationwide numbers.
- Target plans to hire over 130,000 seasonal team members. The company offers pay at a minimum of $13 an hour, offers discounts in store and holiday pay for people working on holidays.
- FedEx plans to hire over 55,000 workers this season.
- CNBC reported
- Amazon plans to hire hundreds of thousands of seasonal employees. Numbers were not available for the amount of seasonal positions open at the Amazon center in Nampa.
Thomas Jordan, spokesperson for the National Retail Federation, said the association’s holiday forecast released in October predicted U.S. retailers would hire between 530,000 and 590,000 temporary workers during November and December.
He added that, according to a U.S. Labor Department report, retailers nationwide had hired 551,000 temporary holiday workers as of early December.
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