Stores Struggle to Find Workers Amid Retail ‘Armageddon’

By Thomson/Reuters – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

U.S. retailers are finding it increasingly difficult to hire employees for stores and for middle and higher management as low pay and a feeling of uncertainty clouds the industry following a spate of bankruptcies and store closures.

Retailers including Macy’s Inc. and J.C. Penney have said they will hire the same or fewer seasonal workers for the holidays this year than last, while some, like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., have chosen not to hire temporary workers at all.

Image: Help Wanted: Stores Struggle to Find Workers Amid Retail 'Armageddon'
(Ronfromyork/Dreamstime)
 

 

Sector observers have attributed this to brick-and-mortar retailers’ retreat under pressure from online players including Amazon, and firms themselves say they have simply taken a staggered approach to hiring this year that fills gaps slowly. Macy’s said holiday hiring was “off to a great start”.

But staffing companies that hire employees for the industry say the problem is deeper and is putting pressure both on the quality of staff retailers can hire and, sooner or later, wages that potential candidates will demand.

The staffing firms say it may also create a squeeze on retailers as they seek to hire heavily for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas — the biggest drivers of retailers’ annual profits.

“Where we have a problem hiring is the lower level, the seasonal or entry-level employees,” said Melissa Hassett, vice president of client delivery for ManpowerGroup Solutions.

Her clients include Lowe’s Cos. Inc., Staples and auto parts firm Pep Boys and she says employees are seeking more flexibility with their schedules, training and pay, which is competitive with other entry-level jobs.

U.S. unemployment levels have hit their lowest in more than 16 years and recruiters say the rise of the “gig economy” and new occupations, such as driving for Uber or Deliveroo, is shrinking the youth talent pool.

The hourly mean wage for entry level sales personnel at retailers, including at clothing, sports goods and department stores, was $11.96 as of May 2016, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In comparison, an Uber driver earns $14.76 per hour, according to data Glassdoor posted on its site earlier this month.

The job search and review site listed 829,500 retail job openings as of mid-October, compared with 875,000 at the same time a year ago.

“There just aren’t enough people who are looking for work … to be put in those positions,” the site’s chief economist, Andrew Chamberlain, said.

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