Survey Suggests a Tight Holiday Job Market

September 30, 2008 ( - Americans hoping to make extra money to pay bills or buy holiday presents this year could face a tight holiday job market, according to a new survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs.

The number of holiday season jobs available will be less than last year, and more people are expected to be vying for them, said in a press release. Managers who plan to hire at least one hourly holiday worker say they are looking to bring on nine seasonal workers on average, down 20% from the 11.2 employees they report having hired last year.

In addition, four in 10 hiring managers (39%) expect the number of applicants to rise this year over last, with about one half (52%) expecting the number to stay the same. Only nine percent expect fewer applicants, according to the press release.

The survey of 1,000 American managers who have responsibility for hiring hourly workers finds that each manager, on average, plans on hiring 3.7 seasonal employees, roughly 33% less than the 5.6 seasonal workers they each hired during last year’s holiday period. Fifty-seven percent of managers say they do not plan on making any hires this year – up 8% from 2007.

Of those who do not plan on hiring this year, the reasons for that decision include an expectation that current staff will take on the additional hours or workload (50%), that they have no money to hire additional seasonal workers (29%), and that they expect a slower holiday season this year compared to last (21%).

With the tight holiday job market, those wanting a position may want to start looking early. The survey indicates that October is the month that most employers who are hiring this year will start the hiring process (36%). A combined 39% said they started hiring in August or September.

Most managers said they expect to wrap up their hiring duties in November (35%), with some finishing in October (20%) and others hiring as late as December (28%).

Whenever hires will be made, job seekers who previously have worked for a company have a definite advantage in getting hired again, the press release said. Over one half of the employees that hiring managers expect to hire this year are seasonal workers who worked for them last year.

For those who are interested in turning a seasonal job into something more permanent, employers said they expect that almost one half (46%) of the employees they hire over the holidays will continue to work for them into 2009.

The survey also found that 43% of seasonal workers will work full-time hours, with the rest working an average of 20 hours a week.