Help wanted: Seasonal wages up, applicants hard to find

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'Tis the season for holiday hiring and retailers across the country are hiking up wages to draw in workers at a time of record unemployment.

"This year, we've already done one of our job fairs. We have a second national job fair happening on the seventeenth of this month, on a Wednesday," said Jim Murray, the operations manager at a Tampa Best Buy store.

Starting pay could be anywhere from $12 to $15, depending on the company.

Retail experts shared what companies are doing beyond pay to stand out to potential employees.

In the Bay Area, there are hiring signs at Best Buy, Target, FedEx, and other stores. Companies are upping their game, increasing their starting pay to draw people in.

At the beginning of 2018, Walmart announced it was increasing starting pay for its employees to $11. Ahead of this holiday season, Target has increased its starting pay to $12, and Amazon bumped its pay up to $15.

"We listened to our critics. We really thought long and hard about our approach to wage and decided we wanted to lead," said Dave Clark, the senior vice president for worldwide operations at Amazon.

Florida Retail Federation's Senior Director of External Affairs James Miller said stores that decide to not increase wages are dropping the ball.

"So, what you're seeing a lot of now is companies really pitching their work environment, their culture as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition," Miller said.

FRF said the unemployment rate is at a 10-year low, so the pool for applicants is slim and environment might not be enough.

A manager at Tampa's Best Buy location said seasonal work is what you make of it.

"Our district manager started out as a seasonal employee and now he's a district manager for the company," said Murray. "So you find yourself saying, 'Hey, I just needed some extra money,' and all of a sudden you've got a career."

As a customer, there's a chance you could wait a little longer in holiday shopping lines this year. Retail experts said there aren't enough people to hire to fill every position.

"But on a different side, those people who are already employed may be able to get more hours which is something I'm sure they would probably want," said Miller.

Tens of thousands of jobs need filling, especially as more people order online and distribution centers work to fill those orders. FRF said dozens of big companies are hiring more people than before this year.