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2011 holiday hiring forecast best in last 4 seasons

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Snagajob survey shows steady progress toward pre-recession levels, better sales anticipated

RICHMOND, Va., Sept. 19, 2011 – Hourly hiring managers foresee a steady increase in holiday, seasonal hires this year over the last three seasons, edging ever closer to pre-recessionary hiring levels – but not all the way back – according to a fourth-annual survey commissioned by Snagajob, hourly job experts.

Among hiring managers with responsibility to hire year-end, seasonal workers for the holiday period, 51 percent will do so this year – up 8 points since 2008. Each hiring manager, on average, expects to hire 4.1 seasonal workers (including those who do not intend to make any hires) – a 5 percent increase over last year’s 3.9 workers and a 32 percent improvement from a low point in 2009 (3.1).

While this holiday period is predicted to be stronger than the last three seasons, holiday hiring is still predicted to be short of pre-recession levels. Hiring managers aren’t expecting to do as much temporary hiring as they did in 2007 – a season during which they each recalled hiring 5.6 hourly, seasonal workers (including those who didn’t hire any). [Snagajob does not have any earlier data.]

Even so, hiring managers appear to be more positive this year than last year when it comes to the general outlook for their business, with one quarter (25%) believing that sales in the fourth quarter of this year will increase year over year, while just 18 percent believe their sales will decrease, resulting in a net score of +7. Contrast this with last year when the net score was +2, and 2009 when the net score was -7 (managers actually forecasted a decrease in sales).

“We’re definitely seeing incremental improvements in the holiday, seasonal job market, even if we haven’t yet returned to pre-recessionary levels,” said Shawn Boyer, CEO of Snagajob. “What’s encouraging is that we have the same percentage of hourly hiring managers expecting to make seasonal hires as before the recession, and we are trending toward hiring the same number of workers as 2007 levels, about three-quarters of the way there.”

Prospective applicants will want to begin their job hunt sooner rather than later because of the timing of the hiring cycle and competition from returning workers. Among those hiring this year, 18 percent already started in August or earlier, while 27 percent started this month and 33 percent will begin in October. Secondly, returning holiday workers will make up a significant portion of the seasonal workforce: Among managers making seasonal hires this year, they report that 53 percent of their workforce will be returning workers, up 8 points from last year.

Beyond traditional department and retail stores, Snagajob recommends that seasonal job seekers consider shipping companies, craft stores, restaurants, movie theaters, inventory positions, resorts staffing up for winter vacations and tax-preparation companies. Job opportunities can be found at www.snagajob.com.

Holiday Hiring Trends:

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

Hourly hiring managers who WILL hire seasonal workers

51%

50%

47%

43%

51%*

Average number of workers to be hired per hiring manager (includes 0)

4.1

3.9

3.1

3.7

5.6*

4th quarter sales expectations (net)**

+7

+2

-7

-2

N/A

Full-time/part-time split of seasonal employees

44%/56%

44%/56%

45%/55%

43%/57%

N/A

Average hourly pay for seasonal employees

$10.60

$10.60

$10.40

$10.00

N/A

*In the 2008 survey, hiring managers were asked to recall if they hired seasonal workers in 2007 – and how many – to create an initial comparison. The 5.6 figure includes hiring managers who hired “0” workers.

**This is a comparison between hiring managers who said 4th quarter sales will increase vs. decrease. A positive number indicates a sales increase expected.

 Survey Methodology: On behalf of Snagajob, Ipsos Public Affairs, a third-party research firm, polled for the fourth-consecutive year a cross-section of 1,004 adult Americans responsible for hiring hourly, seasonal employees.  Sample industries represented included: office/business, customer service, retail, healthcare and restaurants, among others.  The online survey was conducted between Aug. 28-31, 2011.  Its results are based on a sample where sampling and weighting are used to ensure that the sample reflects that of the actual American population, according to Census data.  The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points. The margin of error would be larger for other sub-groupings of the survey population.

About Snagajob: Snagajob is the world’s only company totally devoted to fulfilling the dreams of hourly workers and those who employ them. Hourly job specialists since 2000, Snagajob has grown to a community of more than 30 million hourly workers and a place where they can take advantage of nationwide job opportunities, professional networking and job-hunting advice. To join the Snagajob community and for more information, visit www.snagajob.com.

The Snagajob writers comprise our trusty band of regular freelance contributors and in-house wordsmiths who are expert in all areas of hourly hiring and talent management.