Heading into the holidays, seasonal labor shortage looms

Regional News

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Heading into the holiday season experts say companies are unlikely to find all of the helping hands they need to keep operations jolly. The understaffed stores and delayed online orders will likely impact your wish lists as well.

“The job markets booming,” said Amanda Wright, director of business development & operations for Spherion in Pennsylvania “There are hundreds and hundreds of jobs available in Pennsylvania across our markets.”

Wright said while there are many jobs available, there are not as many workers seeking positions.

Nationwide this summer, job openings reached record numbers with upwards of 11 million to fill. With so many options, job seekers can be choosier about where they want to work.

“I would say it’s hard for employers to attract and attain talent right now,” said Wright. “That is the big struggle that a lot of employers are facing.”

This can be costly for employers. FedEx says they spent $450 million in three months due to costs related to the job market; for example, paying overtime for the employees they do have on staff.

Plus, they’re spending more on creative benefit offers.

“We’ve had clients that have done seasonal pay rates, increasing anywhere from $1 to $3 an hour, to really push ahead of the market when it comes to pay rates,” said Wright. “We’ve also seen retention bonuses, attendance bonuses, and sign on bonuses as a normal part of a compensation package.”

During the holiday season, retail workers and manpower in warehouses and distribution centers are especially in need.

“Since there’s a lot of shopping online, a lot of people need to work in those facilities to get the orders out as quickly as possible,” said Wright.

If you’re looking to hire, Spherion suggests staying flexible.

“It’s important to look at what you’re able to do to accommodate a worker right now, what you can do as far as hours and availability, and opening opportunities to those who you may have traditionally not looked at,” said Wright. “Look at people shifting industries. For example, a lot of people left nursing or hospitality in favor of a different career. So, being open to industry and experience that you may not have been used to.”

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