Black Friday is still 75 days away, but area retailers are already trying to lock down their top seasonal job candidates in a tight labor market.
Thousands of seasonal jobs spanning retail and logistics industries are open in the Miami Valley as holiday hiring takes off. The L Brands call center in Kettering needs 2,000 workers, UPS wants thousands of part-time workers and Target will add hundredes of local seasonal employees.
Amazon, which recently started operating out of its Kettering delivery station, is also hiring for tens of thousands of seasonal roles across the nation in the upcoming weeks. Jobs are listed for Amazon facilities in Monroe, at the Wilmington Air Park and at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport.
“Seasonal employers know that they have to wrap up efforts early on to try to get the right employees through the door,” said Chris Kershner, executive vice president of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. “Workforce is an extremely competitive market and retailers know what they have to do and they’re getting on the ball earlier and earlier each year.”
Big Lots, Amazon, Kirklands, Ollies, Best Buy, J. Crew, Old Navy, Sephora, the United Parcel Service, Macy’s, Burlington, Yankee Candle Company, A.C. Moore, Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer and several other area retailers have already posted listings for seasonal workers.
But it could be challenging to find employees to fill these roles amid an unemployment rate near 4 percent in Dayton, said William Even, an economics professor at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University.
“The relatively low levels of unemployment may be making it difficult for employers to retain existing workers and hire replacements — so they may be moving their hiring plans forward to be sure they can get enough workers to handle the holiday season,” Even said.
Last year, UPS announced its plans to hire 100,000 on Sept. 17. This year, the delivery provider announced plans more than a week earlier. The L Brands Kettering Call Center, which includes Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret, began looking for seasonal workers in mid-August, two weeks earlier than last year. Kohl’s began hiring in July.
Some retailers and other businesses that support holiday shopping are hiring the same number of workers this year as last as hiring slows and consumer sentiment flattens during an ongoing trade war. But others are again hiring more than the previous year, including Target that will hire 10,000 more seasonal workers this year.
With so many permanent full-time jobs available, many of the holiday positions will be filled with part-time workers like retirees who decide to work for extra income, people who want a part time job to finish their schooling or others who already work full-time jobs but want to use a seasonal job to supplement their incomes, Even said.
“When the workforce supply is low but the demand is high, there needs to be other motivators that help folks make those transitions, so you’re seeing increased wages, increased benefit packages,” Kershner said.
New this year, UPS is offering prorated tuition reimbursement to seasonal workers in major metros, up to $1,300 for three months, said spokesman Dan McMackin. In the Dayton-area, the company has positions for personal vehicle delivery drivers and driver helpers.
“We are definitely in one of the tightest labor markets in a long time, and we’re doing more than ever to attract applicants,” McMackin told the Dayton Daily News. “We’re offering tuition assistance to seasonal hires as a way to differentiate our jobs in a very tight labor market.”
Amazon has boosted minimum wage to $15 and Target has done the same to $13 per hour. Target is also investing $2 million into a program to reward hourly workers with gift cards and charity donations, which includes seasonal workers. Seasonal workers at Kohl’s and the L Brands call center get discounts while shopping their brands.
“Time is the new currency. Consumer time is becoming more and more valuable. And the more that retailers are able to respect that time of the consumer, then the more likely that consumers is to patronize them and I believe that’s why you’re seeing this hiring happen even earlier,” Kershner said.
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