Hundreds of seasonal jobs remain open in the region as retail stores and delivery companies prepare for the push of holiday spending expected in the next month.
Amid a healthy economy with low unemployment and more disposable income, retailers, delivery companies distribution facilities and fulfillment centers are having a tougher time finding employees than past years.
While fewer people are looking for a job, the employers need more workers to handle the expected up to 4.8 percent increase in spending to more than $720 billion this holiday season.
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"(Retailers) are looking to hire extra people all the way up until the middle of December," University of Dayton marketing professor Riley Dugan said.
Even after the holiday, those seasonal employees will have work in processing returns and spending from gift cards, Dugan said.
Just about every retailer in area — from the most discounted stores to the highest end carriers — are looking for extra hands this holiday season. Local retailers like Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, Target, Victoria’s Secret and dozens of others still have job postings for seasonal associates.
Local distribution centers and delivery companies also need workers, with the Kohl’s Distribution Center in Monroe looking for more than 3,300 seasonal workers, UPS hiring 100,000, FedEx adding 55,000 jobs and the L Brands call center in Kettering hiring 2,000 workers.
Nationally, holiday job posting for the year had surpassed 704,000 as of mid-October, up from the record 696,000 jobs set in 2014, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Those jobs are competing with other full-time openings as a majority of workers prefer long-term jobs over seasonal part-time work, said Miami University economics professor William Even.
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In Dayton, the unemployment rate is 4 percent, which is lower than Ohio’s unemployment rate of 4.6 percent in September. And that’s good for the local economy, with more people earning a wage and fewer people in need of government assistance, said Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Chris Kershner.
“However, a low rate can also make it difficult to hire seasonal employees,” Kershner said. “Applicants should do their due diligence and consider the entire job and benefit package and post-seasonal hiring employment opportunities.”
Employers are adding those incentives to attract seasonal workers.
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UPS announced it would bring 35 percent of seasonal workers on for permanent positions, and other retailers like Target announced wage increases. Macy’s is offering both seasonal and permanent employees quarterly incentives for reaching goals and Kohl’s upped its employee discount from 15 percent to 35 percent.
"The reason that they're doing that is not because of the generosity of their own hearts," Dugan said. "It's just simply because they need to be able to attract workers because there's so much competition."
But retailers, distribution centers and delivery companies will find enough holiday help among people who weren’t typically looking for work, Dugan said.
"There might be a large pool of, say, students out there who normally aren't looking for work because they're going to school, but during the holiday season might say, 'you know what, I kind of could use some extra cash to buy some gifts for my family," Dungan said.
Retirees looking for some extra dollars, those already employed who want to pick up weekend shifts and some stay-at home parents may also pick up seasonal jobs this holiday season, according to several experts.
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