Summer may seem like it’s months away, but the time to start hiring summer workers is now, says Courtney Moyer, PR manager for Snagajob, the largest hourly employment network for job seekers and employers.

She notes that the company’s sixth-annual summer jobs survey shows that 77 percent of summer hiring will start this month and be complete by May.

“Employers who feel like they can wait until May to make those hires … might be missing out on the best jobseekers,” she says.

The study—which surveys more than 1,000 hourly hiring managers—shows that 19 percent of hiring managers across several industries, foodservice included, plan to hire more seasonal staff this summer, 10 percent more than in 2012.

Moyer says this trend reflects the health of the general economy, which is recovering incrementally, giving both consumers and employers more confidence.

“As employers become more confident that their consumers will be coming out this summer, they will be spending, they will be doing the things that they may not have been doing during the recession, that boosts the need for additional hiring to account for that increase in consumer activity,” she says.

Moyer adds that brands, including quick-service restaurants, that are closer to tourist attractions are more likely to increase staff numbers during the summer months.

On average, the survey shows hiring managers expect to add 30 seasonal workers, up from 27 in 2012, while average hourly wages will also rise for the first time in two years, from $10.90 to $11.50.

The study reports that a third of hiring managers believe teens will have an easier time finding summer employment this season. “By and large, the people who are hired during the summer tend to be high school and college-aged students, just because they have the summer off,” Moyer says.

Because hiring managers expect just 55 percent of their summer workforce to return—down from 65 percent last year—Moyer says this is particularly good news for teens looking for their first job.

“If employers aren’t expecting that their workforce will be largely returning workers, it gives new jobseekers a chance to get their foot in the door,” she says.

By Mary Avant

Employee Management, News, Outside Insights