Evie Fordham, DCNF
Americans are shopping more in stores, prompting retailers to hire more workers — but record low unemployment is forcing retailers to make their job openings more appealing with higher wages, paid time off and more.
Many job seekers are reluctant to work in retail because of its reputation for unpredictable hours and relatively low pay. Companies like Kohl’s, J.C. Penney and Target are trying to alter that image, reported The Wall Street Journal Monday. For example, J.C. Penney’s part-time hourly workers will get “one week of paid time off a year,” reported the WSJ.
The U.S. has seen approximately 50,000 retail openings added to the job market every month since February, reported The New York Times on Sept. 3. Some major retailers started hiring extra holiday workers as early as June, even though holiday hiring typically starts around September, reported the WSJ.
2018 has been a big year for retail hiring. There were more openings than hires from March to June for the first time in ten years, and there were 100,000 more retail job openings in July 2018 than July 2017, reported the WSJ.
Many of the jobs that retailers are trying to fill may look different from the sales positions of years gone by. Since the rise of online retailers like Amazon, brick-and-mortar stores have competed to make their shopping experiences as convenient as possible. For example, Walmart is looking to hire 25,000 “personal shoppers” who will buy and pack groceries for customers who take advantage of free grocery pickup, reported TheNYT.
Its rival Target is looking to hire 120,000 “seasonal workers,” who will make $1 more per hour if they are hired after Sept. 16, reported the WSJ. Target plans to raise its minimum wage to $15 by 2020, according to the report.
About one in 10 American workers has a retail position, and approximately one-third of those positions were part time as of 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For some employees who are students, part-time work is a boon. But for others who want to support a family with retail wages, it’s a challenge.
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