Snag Holiday Hiring Survey Reveals Tight Labor Market Likely to Push Hourly Wages Higher This Season

Retailers, hotels and restaurants say they’ll need to pay more and recruit earlier to get workers needed for the 2018 holiday season

Arlington, VA – September 26, 2018 – There’s likely to be good news for temporary hourly workers this holiday season. Employers, including retailers, hotels, and restaurants, say they expect to be filling more jobs and offering significantly higher wages than they did last year in order to attract seasonal workers in the fourth quarter. That’s according to the 2018 Annual Holiday Hiring Survey released today by Snag, the nation’s largest marketplace for hourly work.

According to the Snag nationwide survey of hourly employers, the average hourly wage for seasonal workers is expected to jump nearly 32%, from $11.70 in 2017 to $15.40 this year. Retail is leading the way in expected seasonal wage growth, jumping by as much as 54%, with hospitality companies forecasting increases of 51%, and restaurant wages rising around 33%. In addition to paying more, employers will begin recruiting earlier than usual in order to attract talent in the tightest labor market in nearly two decades.

With more employers saying they’ll need extra workers this year (84% versus 77% in 2017), the competition for skilled hourly employees is expected to be fierce, and 86% of employers say they will struggle to fill temporary seasonal positions. To attract workers, a majority of employers (77%) say they’ll be offering perks and benefits including paid time off, training opportunities, childcare, tuition stipends, health insurance, and even transportation reimbursement.

“A growing number of hourly employers understand that having the best workers improves the customer experience and increases revenue,” said Snag CEO Fabio Rosati. “In order to attract and retain the most qualified seasonal workers, many companies are stepping up their game and offering more hours and benefits, higher wages, and flexible schedules.”

“Managers’ anticipation for increased hiring this holiday season reflects optimism about the fourth quarter and the ongoing strength of the US economy. But with unemployment at record low levels, businesses are recognizing that they’ll likely need to offer workers more money and other perks if they are to be competitive in this very tight labor market. That could be good news for workers, who may finally see bigger paychecks after years of wage stagnation,” said Dr. Terry Clower, Director for the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.

Additional findings from the report include:

  • The number of companies that began recruiting in August or earlier more than doubled compared with last year.
  • In the restaurant industry, the hottest hourly positions this holiday season will be servers, dishwashers and cashiers.
  • Managing employee schedules during the holiday period is expected to be one of the biggest challenges according to 54% of employers.
  • The lack of qualified workers and competition from other employers are the major challenges employers are facing as they seek to fill jobs.
  • More than a third (37%) of employers expect to rehire between 1 and 5 employees from the 2017 holiday season.
  • A majority of employers (62%) have increased their use of social media to recruit hourly workers this year.

Data for the 11th annual Snag Holiday Hiring Report was conducted by Wakefield Research, which surveyed 1,000 employers with hiring responsibilities, specifically targeting the nation’s retail, restaurant and hospitality industries. Check out Snag’s 2018 holiday hiring infographic to learn more.

About Snag

Snag is the largest and fastest-growing platform for hourly work, with more than 60 million active job seekers and job opportunities at 300,000 employer locations in the US and Canada. Snag’s on-demand service instantly connects hourly workers with available shifts, giving workers the flexibility of working when and where they choose while employers are assured every shift stays filled. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.