Job seekers who are looking for seasonal work might find some extra holiday cheer this year. Retailers such as Amazon and shipping companies including UPS are hiring thousands of people to help with the holiday rush. And some companies are likely to sweeten their employment offers with incentives such as signing bonuses and tuition benefits.
Unemployment levels have dropped since their pandemic peak in spring 2020, and there are more job openings than people seeking jobs. That means the seasonal job market right now especially favors workers, including mid-career adults and retirees looking to earn additional income.
Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist at the New School for Social Research, says that this holiday season she’ll be looking to see if workers get better pay and conditions.
“I would advise someone who is going to enter the labor market or is going to pick up another job to push a little bit and ask for what they want,” she said, including more flexible schedules. “I am seeing employers aware they have to give workers more.” But, she added, it’s important to negotiate up front. “Once you start working, it’s very hard to change the terms of contract,” she said.
The types of opportunities available this holiday season have been shaped by pandemic shopping trends, such as e-commerce. Shipping and warehousing businesses added a record-breaking 493,000 jobs last holiday season, according to a report from the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas based on U.S. Labor Department statistics.
Job seekers hoping for more traditional retail work may also take heart. Even with the spike in e-commerce, more retail stores opened in the United States this year than closed, according to a survey from RetailSphere, and companies like Michaels and Kohl’s are hiring now for in-store associates.
Not interested in retail, transportation or warehousing? Most of the companies hiring by the thousands are in those industries, but Ghilarducci said those seeking seasonal work should also look to the hospitality industry.
“This could be a place where older workers could get some traction. Seasonal work as a hotel clerk, in accommodations or at tourist attractions are maybe nontraditional [seasonal employers] where older people can find interesting opportunities,” she said.
Of course, safety is a priority. Older workers might want to check how organizations are protecting their workers against COVID-19 variants before committing to a job. Businesses with more than 100 workers will soon be required to mandate that employees either get vaccinated or be tested weekly for COVID-19 infections. For smaller and larger firms alike, check to see what precautions are in place to keep workers safe.
Here are some companies that have already announced their plans to hire for the holiday rush nationwide. Whether you’re in need of part-time or full-time, or a job that will just last a few months to something more permanent, opportunities abound. And in many cases, hiring is already underway.
1-800 Flowers expects to increase its workforce by 10,000 people for the holiday season. The company, which also includes Harry and David’s and Cheryl’s Cookies, is hiring for a variety of positions that could be a fit for workers with a variety of needs and skill sets.
Looking for seasonal work that can be done remotely? While some positions, like mailing service associates, have to be done on-site, positions like customer service and data entry can be done from home. Most on-site seasonal positions are focused in Illinois, Ohio and Oregon. Year-round positions are also available. Those interested in learning more about these opportunities can find more information or apply at 1-800-Flowers’ website.
Amazon’s presence in the American economy seems to be ever growing. It already employs more than 1 million workers, second only to Walmart among private employers. This year, it’s boosting its workforce by 125,000 permanent fulfillment and transportation positions ahead of the holidays.
The starting wage for the new openings is $18 — that’s $3 above the company’s minimum wage. Some of the positions even come with a $3,000 signing bonus. Amazon already operates distribution centers all over the country, and it added 100 in September alone.
Those interested can learn more or apply on Amazon’s employment website.
DHL eCommerce Solutions
DHL eCommerce Solutions is adding more than 2,800 jobs for November and December, a more than 68 percent increase to its workforce. Duties including sorting lightweight parcels, scanning, package handling and data entry.
The openings are evenly split between full and part time, both with health benefits and opportunities for tuition reimbursement. The company is hiring in all of its 19 distribution centers across the country, including in Raleigh, North Carolina, Phoenix and St. Louis. Candidates can apply by visiting DHL’s employment website.
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Kohl’s expects to add 90,000 jobs for the holidays. The retailer is gearing up for a spike in both in-person and at-home shopping by hiring for positions in the physical department stores as well as in distribution and e-commerce fulfillment centers.
Some new hires will be eligible for a signing bonus of up to $400 for working through the holiday season. Hourly workers will be eligible to receive a bonus ranging from $100 to $200 for working through Oct. 30, and a second if they work Oct. 31 through Jan. 1. The bonuses might be even larger for employees working more than 12 hours per week. Kohl’s has more than a thousand locations nationwide. More information about the openings can be found at the Kohl’s careers website.
Michaels is the largest arts and crafts retail chain in North America, and it's hiring big this season. It has announced 20,000 open positions for the holidays.
The company notes that last year, more than 50 percent of workers hired for the holiday season ended up transitioning into permanent jobs. Michaels operates more than 1,200 stores in 49 states. You can learn more and apply here.
UPS expects to hire more than 100,000 seasonal employees to accommodate the expected surge in packages between October and January — and it’s looking to hire quickly. The president of U.S. operations, Neandro Cesarone, recently said that many applicants can expect a job offer within 30 minutes of turning in their applications.
The company is primarily looking for package handlers, truck drivers, driver helpers and personal vehicle drivers, with both full- and part-time positions available. One of the ways UPS is trying to attract employees is through its Earn and Learn program, through which eligible employees can earn up to $1,300 toward college expenses in addition to the hourly pay. And good news for workers looking for an opportunity that extends beyond the holiday crush: Nearly a third of the company’s permanent workers based in the U.S. started in seasonal positions.
Applicants interested in jobs at UPS can apply online at the company’s employment website.
The United States Postal Service is hiring for 40,000 seasonal openings, including mail carriers, mail handlers and drivers. The agency is also hiring for year-round positions, like sales associates.
Job seekers can see what opportunities are available in their state and apply here.
Walmart is already the largest private employer in the country and plans to hire 20,000 more people by the holiday season for permanent warehouse positions at 250 facilities nationwide. The openings include order fillers, freight handlers, lift drivers, technicians and managers. The average pay is $20.37 an hour.
Grace Tatter is a contributing writer for AARP. She previously has been a writer and producer for WBUR public radio and Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education news organization.