In the U.S., Seasonal Hiring Has Slowed Down—Could That Be a Positive Economic Sign?

New Survey Results: Only 32% of American Businesses Plan for Seasonal Hires.

With the holiday shopping season fully underway, Americans are hitting the sales and grabbing gifts as usual, but something may be different this year, according to new survey results and on-the-ground reports from Express Employment Professionals franchise owners-some employers aren’t hiring as many seasonal workers.

“We have seen more seasonal hiring in the past four to five years,” said John Calabrese, an Express franchise owner in Utica, New York. “This is the first down year that we have experienced with seasonal positions.”

Likewise, Daniel Morgan, an Express franchise owner in Birmingham, Alabama, reported, “Our hours usually go up in December with some seasonal business. We have not heard of any seasonal additions this year.”

Bernie Inbody, an Express franchise owner in Omaha, Nebraska, said his office usually has a few retail clients looking for seasonal workers but “not as many” this year.

Some major retailers have announced they plan to hire thousands fewer holiday workers this year, while others are providing incentives to regular employees to work extra hours. And according to a survey of businesses fielded by Express, only 32% expect to have seasonal work this year.

While this may sound like troubling news, it could actually be a sign of economic success.

“This is not surprising to our team,” Calabrese said. “More companies are fully staffed than in the prior years, and hiring has continued on a rapid pace over the last few years. More employers are looking to manage the seasonal increases with current staff. Minimum wage increases have also curbed seasonal hiring as well.”

Regardless of current trends, taking a seasonal job can be a good career move. It’s a “foot in the door” to becoming a permanent employee.

“In a period of almost unprecedentedly low unemployment and a remarkably tight labor market, it makes sense that seasonal hiring trends are changing,” said Bill Stoller, CEO of Express. “Businesses have still staffed up for the holiday rush, but maybe not quite like they have in the past. The good news is that they are finally able to afford more full-time workers. It’s certainly something to celebrate this holiday season.

The survey of 804 businesses, which are current and former clients of Express Employment Professionals, was conducted in August 2018 to gauge respondents’ expectations for the fourth quarter of 2018.

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