The holidays are a great time to earn extra money with a seasonal job. This year, seasonal workers are in particularly high demand. Unemployment in the U.S. fell to a historic low of 3.5% in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That's good news for seasonal workers, who usually take short-term, temporary positions. Seasonal job hiring in August was up 12% compared to last year, according to new data from staffing firm ManpowerGroup.
The top industry for seasonal workers is retail, making up 21% of the overall seasonal hiring demand, according to the firm's data. Another 13% of jobs are in hotel accommodation or food service, and 11% are in e-commerce warehouses or logistics.
The three most in-demand jobs are retail sales associates (18%), hotel staff (11%), and drivers (7%).
"The economy is good, employment is tight, and so you're not only seeing people hiring employees for seasonal work because they figure it will be good for Christmas, you see them paying more and doing other things to attract [workers]," says Kristof.
Because unemployment is historically low, big companies are gearing up to compete with one another for talent. That means they're raising the stakes by offering seasonal employees discounts and perks — making these companies good places to start looking for seasonal work.
These are the companies with the most seasonal job openings, according to ManpowerGroup data.
- Dollar General
- CR England
- Advance Auto Parts
- Pizza Hut
In general, when looking for seasonal work, think about the trade-off you're making, suggests Kristof. Keep in mind that you may be giving up personal or family time, so "consider what else you want to get out of [the job] besides a paycheck. ... Do you want discounts? And if so, what stores do you want those discounts from?"
Video by David Fang
If you're looking for a seasonal job, here's how to find one that's right for you.
- If you want an employee discount: Consider a big box store where you might also be interested in shopping. For example, Target plans to hire 125,000 seasonal team members to fill openings at their 1,800 stores nationwide, with positions starting at $13 an hour. Hourly employees receive a 10% discount, plus an additional 20% wellness discount off certain items, including fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. They offer flexible schedules, according to Target's website.
- If you need flexible hours: Try a retail or department store. For example, Kohl's lists about 2,500 seasonal store positions and warehouse jobs offering flexible hours and weekly paychecks. The department store also throws in a 15% discount, free on-site health center, and paid breaks. You may also want to check out your local mall or neighborhood boutiques to see if they need help.
- If you're a student and want help paying for college: UPS expects to hire 100,000 seasonal workers between November and January 2020 and will reportedly pay truck drivers $14-$30 an hour. As part of its Work and Learn Program, UPS is throwing in an added perk for students: up to $1,300 toward college expenses for three months.
- If you're interested in physical work: Thanks to an increase in online shopping, lots of warehouse and distribution centers where workers sort, pack, and ship customer orders started hiring early in the season. In September, Amazon announced a plan to bring on tens of thousands of full- and part-time seasonal workers for the holidays. The company is also looking to hire people to load cargo onto airplanes and to help out at Whole Foods Markets and Prime Now warehouses. Amazon workers now earn $15/hour.
"It is a great year for people to take a look at seasonal jobs — you can earn a lot and [companies] are hiring already," says Kristof. "You have plenty of time to make the money you're going to spend on the holidays, which is really nice because so many people go into debt over the holiday season and that's not necessary anymore."
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