Still searching, worker insights
Snagajob found job seeker growth to be most pronounced in states that plan to end unemployment benefits early. Hard to find a more concrete point than that one.
After a sharp drop in March and early April, that platform said it’s seen a visible recovery in job searches. And it’s accelerated in states that expect to cut the extra $300 off in June. On May 4, Montana became the first state to announce a preemptive end to expanded unemployment. Since, 24 other states have expressed intent to do so, including Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Ohio.
Hourly job search growth (May 1–May 15)
- States ending benefits: 21 percent
- U.S. overall: 16 percent
- States keeping benefits: 13 percent
The pandemic changed how people want to work and what they expect from their employer. Just look at recent wage boosts and benefits forked up by some of fast-food’s biggest players.
A horde of hospitality workers left the industry during 2020, whether they chose to actively or not, in the face of dine-in closures and mass furloughs. So, restaurants now has to compete with the wages and benefits offered by other industries in addition to competitors. More than ever.
You could say it’s a worker’s market. Hourly employees can find new, probably higher paying, positions that fit their lifestyle better.
But by late summer, Snagajob believes the market will be far more competitive. So it’s a good time for people to apply and feel more empowered to ask for what they really need in life. Thus, restaurants have to be ready to offer more.
This is what businesses are saying about their summer hiring plans, per Snagajob:
- Eighty-eight percent who hire teens for the summer told the platform they plan to do so again this year.
- While many businesses typically fill their positions by April and May, hiring is delayed this season as COVID vaccinations continue and consumer interest rebounds.
Snagajob said it expects most jobs will be filled by early July. Many businesses are now in a full hiring swing—in a recent survey, 99 percent of employers reported they are currently hiring.
In the same survey, 92 percent of employers said they do not have the staff they need to operate at full capacity. Ninety percent shared that they are not receiving enough applications.
From the employer perspective
Put simply, the challenge facing restaurants today is to find qualified workers to meet elevated demand. As noted, the reasons workers aren’t reentering the workforce, however, is pretty gray. State and federal unemployment benefits, undeniably, represent a lead factor for lower-skilled workers. According to a recent Bank of America report, American workers making $32,000 or less annually are better-served by unemployment. And this only levels up when you toss in childcare costs.
The lists of states opting out of federal pandemic-era jobless programs continues to grow and hit 25 states by the end of May. Some announced one-time bonus payouts as further incentive. Montana and Oklahoma, for instance, offered $1,200. Arizona $2,000.
The average American received $387 from their state in weekly unemployment payments. Tack on the expanded boost and it’s close to $700 ($687, to be exact). That means, for a 40-hour workweek, the average unemployed American is getting the equivalent of $17.17 an hour. Or, more than two times the federal minimum wage.
It was inevitable this was going to stretch the dynamic to its snapping point.
In states that announced they will stop federal unemployment benefits in June (referenced earlier), Snagajob witnessed twice the growth in job seekers (13 percent since the beginning of May versus 8 percent for the rest of the country). Based on last year, the company predicts those growth rates to accelerate next month as the country gets close to benefits falling off.
Still, after a 22 percent drop in March, Snagajob said there’s been a rebound in the number of hourly job seekers. Since early April, it’s seen a surge with the number rising 9 percent in the first two weeks of May. About 50 percent of that growth is due to demand for summer employment, the company said, while the other percentage represents an elastic turnaround.
Even with a summer seasons on deck, though, this is still a worker shortage reality.
Navigating the waters starts with understanding what today’s workers want, what attracts them, and what will make the difference when hiring and retaining employees.
In the past month:
- 75 percent of workers surveyed have applied to a job
- A third of workers have interviewed for a job
Not just the unemployed are looking for work.
Employed workers are weighting their options:
- Two-thirds have applied to a job in the last month
- A third have interviewed in the last month
They are job searching for these reasons:
- 34 percent: Working overtime because their employer is short staffed
- 50 percent: Because they’re taking on extra responsibilities
Health and safety remain top-of-mind for many hourly job seekers.
There are five top elements prospective employees saying they look for in a job description:
- 84 percent: Wage rate
- 77 percent: Flexible scheduling
- 58 percent: Benefits offered
- 57 percent: Health and safety precautions
- 50 percent: Interview format (in-person versus video)
Top searches among people looking for jobs:
- Summer jobs near me
- Summer jobs for college students
- Summer jobs for teens
- Summer jobs for teachers
Employers should make sure they include their zip code and mention they’re open to hiring these types of applicants, Snagajob said.
Speaking of job listings, here are some tips. And something to be mindful of—80 percent of job seekers said they plan to wear a mask even if not required when working. It’s on employers to reassure applicants they’re doing everything to keep them safe, from PPE to sanitization to contactless services and social distancing.
- Why: Referrals result in 5X the hire rate of other applicants
- What to do: Raise referral bonuses, run monthly campaigns, ensure signage in breakroom
List your wages
- Why: Postings with wages get 30 percent more applicants
- What to do: List the wage or wage range for each position
- Why: Highlight what others and gig employment can’t offer
- What to do: Ensure job descriptions speak to career growth, family atmosphere, benefits
Address health/safety concerns
- Why: 52 percent of prospective employees look for these elements in job postings
- What to do: List COVID-19 health and safety measures in place
The white-collarization of hourly worker
With greater financial leeway, Snagajob said, hourly workers are reevaluating what they desire. As in white collar, employers continue to augment wages and benefits, but also introduce training and development programs to attract talent. McDonald’s and Chipotle recently raised wages (McDonald’s at the corporate level). While Chipotle now offers debt-free degrees across a variety of subjects, including culinary, and recently said hourly workers have an opportunity to advance to a “Restaurateur,” a six-figure general manager position, in just three and a half years. The brand also rolled out a $200 employee referral bonus for crew members and a $750 referral bonus for apprentices or general managers.
“The current labor shortage is a significant challenge that is having a very real impact on business,” Snagajob said. “But despite that, jobless claims are at a new pandemic low, continuing their downward trend and showing that the labor market is gaining strength as COVID-19 cases steadily decrease and over 50 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Consumer confidence has also increased, with 52 percent saying they are more comfortable making major household purchases [homes, cars, etc.] and 57 percent are more comfortable with discretionary purchases than they were six months ago.”