Seasonal Hiring Forecast

Summer is nearly here, and this year the annual hiring frenzy for hourly workers returns, as does Americans’ eagerness to get out of the house. Theme parks, resorts, and cruises are restarting operations, which means they’ll need heaps of new talent to cater to guests who have been waiting for vacations (or even just staycations) for more than a year.

So where is hiring booming, where is it stagnant, and what should recruiters be aware of when bringing on new seasonal talent?

Summer 2021: Where Are We Now?

In 2020, consumers shifted their shopping habits, prompting a surge in hiring for eCommerce and delivery workers. Some of the top-posted positions during the past year have included heavy truck drivers, tractor-trailer drivers, and delivery drivers. This trend is likely to continue as the convenience and safety of online shopping outweigh the potential risk of in-person grocery trips.

Although online shopping may be here to stay, Americans are still antsy to get out and get back to warm-weather pastimes like al-fresco dining, picnics, sporting events, and theme parks. 

A Roller Coaster Year

Theme parks are back up and running at various capacities, and scoring a ticket can even involve signing up for a waitlist. Parks are preparing for guests by hosting hiring events in an effort to beef up staff across all departments

In Ohio, Cedar Point held a hybrid in-person and virtual hiring event in March as part of its search for 6,500 new employees for the summer season, which happens to be the park’s 150th anniversary. Cleveland Metroparks is also hiring seasonal workers for positions that will last until October.

A similar hiring event was held at Kings Dominion in Virginia, an amusement park that is hoping to attract 2,100 new team members. The amusement park also has raised hourly pay for seasonal employees to $13.

On the retail front, Lowe’s has organized a number of hiring events to fill 50,000 new positions nationwide. Homeowners and developers typically work on home improvement projects when the weather is warm, so Lowe’s anticipates needing more hands on deck for the busy season ahead. 

Help Wanted

Despite the hiring boom for some seasonal jobs, there are a few industries and specific locations where hiring is still struggling. 

In Cape Cod, for example, supermarkets, stores, restaurants, and hotels are clamoring to fill roles like cooks, servers, front desk clerks, and cleaners. Resort towns' usual strategies for filling hourly positions—such as hiring foreign workers with J1 and H2B visas—have been stalled due to embassy backlogs, closures, or reduced operating hours, as well as flight restrictions brought on by COVID-19. This may force some businesses to cut back their operating hours and leave them unable to meet the demand the summer will likely bring.

Another popular vacation destination experiencing sluggish hiring for the summer season is the Jersey Shore. Morey’s Piers has open positions for ride operators, lifeguards, game attendants, and parking staff.

What to Remember This Season

It’s safe to say that the unpredictability of the past year will continue throughout the summer and even into the fall. Vaccinated or not, peoples’ behaviors, willingness to follow rules, and general attitudes about the pandemic will vary, keeping hospitality companies on their toes.

As eager as everyone is to get back outside and back to normal, employers should remain vigilant by maintaining strict hygiene practices, encouraging workers to wear masks and stay six feet apart, and ensuring workers are protected and have access to healthcare when needed.

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