Server at outdoor cafe To compete for workers, more employers are now willing to offer the maximum hourly wage they feel their business can afford, rather than the minimum required by law. (Photo: Shutterstock)

As the unemployment rate hits a record low, summer hiring is at its strongest in a decade – and employers are competing for workers by offering higher wages and more benefits, according to Snag’s 10th annual Summer Hiring Survey.

The vast majority (95 percent) of the 1,000 retail, restaurant and hospitality employers surveyed say they are adding more shifts for the summer season, and more than half (58 percent) say they intend to hire more summer workers than last year.

Related: Companies take new look at summer benefits

“We’re thrilled to see nearly all employers are adding extra shifts this summer on top of hiring more hourly workers. This is doubly good news because it likely indicates that current employees are getting more hours,” says Snag CEO Peter Harrison.

There has also been a giant surge in interest for on-demand workers with 81 percent of employers planning to utilize on-demand workers within the next 12 months, up from 62 percent last year and 31 percent year-over-year.

To compete for workers, more employers are now willing to offer the maximum hourly wage they feel their business can afford (46 percent in 2018 versus 31 percent in 2017), rather than the minimum required by law (12 percent in 2018 versus 18 percent in 2017).

Indeed, 74 percent plan to pay an hourly wage of at least $11, compared to last year when only 53 percent of employers planned to pay the same or more. Employers are also offering more benefits to attract employees, including paid time off (52 percent), health insurance (49 percent) and employee discounts (38 percent).

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • Even with low unemployment, employers aren’t worried about getting enough applications this year. In fact, 60 percent anticipate getting more summer applicants than last year.
  • Employers anticipate one in five (21 percent) of their summer workforce will be made up of rehires compared to 26 percent in 2017.
  • Employers are using mobile or app-based applicant tracking systems (ATS) more than in the past. Usage increased 167 percent year-over-year.
  • The majority of employers (90 percent) use technology and automation to complete certain employee tasks, yet nearly 70 percent don’t expect it will impact the number of summer staff they plan to hire.