Employers likely to struggle to fill Christmas jobs due to tight labour market – Indeed

“The tight labour market was already evident, and now we’re seeing that it may have an impact on the usual seasonal surge in recruitment around Christmas," says Jack Kennedy, economist at Indeed

Number of people searching for seasonal roles is 24% lower than in 2019



16 November 2021 | 0

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Figure 1

Staff shortages in the retail and hospitality sectors could dampen the Christmas cheer of shoppers and party-goers according to new data published by jobs site Indeed.

In the latest edition of its monthly Job Search Survey, Indeed found that whilst postings for seasonal Christmas roles are just 2% lower than the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019, the number of people searching for seasonal jobs is down 24%.

Postings of available roles and searches for jobs are a useful indicator of supply and demand for labour in any particular job category, and the disconnect indicates that employers who are looking to scale up for the Christmas season may struggle to fill the desired extra shifts or extended hours to make the most of Christmas trading.

The labour market squeeze is consistent with the survey’s broader finding that the urgency to seek a new role is limited amongst workers in the Irish labour market at present.

Figure 2

October’s results showed that 52% of respondents were not open to searching for a new job right now, whilst 27% were just passively searching (Fig 1). The percentage of respondents actively and urgently hunting for a new job in October was just 8%, only marginally higher than the level 3 months ago (7%).

Some households may be enjoying a financial cushion built up during Covid that is allowing them to be more selective about the search for a new role. CSO data published earlier this month showed that Irish household savings rose by €31bn last year to an all time high of €313bn, in part due to reduced consumer spending during the pandemic1. The gradual erosion of these funds as normal life returns could force some people to start searching more intently in the coming months.

Savings running low was referenced by 9% of respondents as a potential trigger for more active job seeking, but waiting until there are more job opportunities (30%) or after taking time off (20%) were cited by more people as a reason.

The level of Irish job postings on Indeed continues to surge ahead of its pre-pandemic baseline, up 49% at 5 November 2021, compared to 1 February 2020 (Fig 2), showing the acute demand for staff. The tightening of the labour market in recent months has also been accompanied by upward wage pressure, with the CSO reporting a 3.9% increase in labour costs in its most recent quarterly update2.

“The tight labour market was already evident, and now we’re seeing that it may have an impact on the usual seasonal surge in recruitment around Christmas,” said Jack Kennedy, economist at Indeed.

“Hiring needs are typically acute in the retail and hospitality sectors as they gear up for a much-anticipated increase in business following the challenges of lockdown,” he added. “Our data indicates that whilst there are plenty of businesses searching for people to fill extra shifts there hasn’t been a commensurate rise in people interested in those opportunities.

“With the rate of inflation now running at over 5%, as workers encounter higher prices for food, energy and other essentials combined with the supply and demand imbalance for workers, we have a cocktail of circumstances that will almost certainly put workers in a good position to seek pay increases next year. Employers with acute shorter term needs may need to bump pay in advance of next year to ensure that roles are filled.”

1  *(Source: CSO; November 2021:https://www.cso.ie/en/csolatestnews/pressreleases/2021pressreleases/pressstatementinstitutionalsectoraccountsfinancialandnon-financial2020/)

2**(Source: CSO Earnings and Labour Costs Q2 2021 (preliminary) https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/elcq/earningsandlabourcostsq12021finalq22021preliminaryestimates/)

(Methodology: This information is based on an Indeed online survey conducted 11 -19 October of 1,500 adults in Ireland between 18-64. Weights were applied to each survey to match respondent distributions across age, gender, education and ethnicity based on data from the Central Statistics Office)



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