Retailers are hoping that this holiday season will be the best ever—or at least the best one in the last couple years. But to do that, they’ll have to hire a lot of temporary workers, fast. Part of the enticement equation is higher wages: Employee wages jumped by 1.5 percent during the third quarter, the biggest increase in 20 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As employers struggle to fill jobs, workers have the upper hand to demand better wages, hours, and work flexibility generally.
And, for teenage workers or people who have gaps in their resumes that make it more difficult to get hired, this summer’s retail surge may repeat itself, says Alicia Sasser Modestino, associate professor of public policy and urban affairs and economics at Northeastern. “We saw a similar situation over the summer, when suddenly restaurants and retail stores were cleared to open,” she says.