The sounds of terrified screams can be heard for miles. Parents squeeze tight to their children as they walk down the seemingly never-ending narrow hallways.
Ghostly whispers and agonizing cackles echo through the dark. Lights flicker as panicked feet hustle to try and escape.
Behind these crowded hallways, Leah Lambas and her family are huddled together, helping each other get their monster makeup done to try and get out and join in the fright fest with their team.
Lambas is a recruiter from Louisiana. She and her family work as actors at the new Halls of Horror haunted house in Silsbee, Texas every weekend in October.
“For myself, it just became a little here a little there,” Lambas said. “It’s something to earn a little bit of money but also to help out a family business.”
Lambas and her family are just a few of the millions of Americans who work at what is known as a “seasonal job.” This is employment that happens around the same time every year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current unemployment rate is 4.8%. This number was disappointing to economists who predicted jobs to grow by 500,000 in September, when they only grew by 194,000.
There are several factors that are contributing to slow job growth, including the continuing labor shortage and COVID-19 risks. Seasonal work has the potential to catapult the jobs numbers in October, with more people usually getting hired to help employers during the holidays.
Because of the labor shortage, experts have said for anyone looking for work, now is the best time to find something.
The most recent U.S. Labor Department’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed there were 10.4 million job openings in August. Also, the number of people leaving their jobs rose to 4.3 million, the highest level since December of 2000.
“In the face of the tightest labor market in living history, one in which the competition for workers is at an all-time high, employers may discover market dynamics that give job seekers the advantage—an advantage that makes all hiring harder, not just holiday hiring,” said Mathieu Stevenson, CEO of Snagajob.
“There are currently about 70% more job vacancies than pre-pandemic levels and 10% fewer people looking for work—that’s the greatest gap in recorded history,” Stevenson said.
Employers are already struggling to find workers in minimum wage positions. Because of the benefits seasonal work brings to companies, the labor shortage can be in people looking for work’s best interest.
Challenger, Grey & Christmas Inc. predicts retailers will add 700,000 workers during the 2021 holiday season.
“Hiring seasonal workers helps to ensure customer demand is met while keeping customer service and satisfaction high, as well as preventing employee burnout and maintaining employee flexibility,” Stevenson said.
Employers will bring in extra workers to help with the increased demand certain seasons bring. October is known as the first month of the holiday season, and is when seasonal employment starts to become popular.
Lambas, a grandmother, is not the average age for seasonal employment. But, because of her regular commutes to visit her boyfriend across state borders, this October gig is providing Lambas with necessary extra cash, especially since she is in the process of starting a new job.
“It’s been helpful to me in this brief little bit of time where I go up every other weekend to Texas to visit my boyfriend so that takes up a little bit of extra gas money that I would be spending,” she said.
There are many different types of seasonal jobs in several different sectors, said Brie Reynolds, the career development manager at FlexJobs.com.
“Seasonal jobs can be found at fall festivals, apple orchards, and family event farms in areas ranging from customer service, sales, event management, and even character acting for haunted houses,” Reynolds said. “Support roles in accounting, bookkeeping, custodial work, and human resources and recruiting are also connected with seasonal jobs.”
The most common age of people that work these seasonal positions are college and high school students. According to a survey done by Snagajob, 31% of people looking for hourly holiday work are 16-24 years old. But seasonal employment is open to anyone.
There are also a wide range of reasons why people look to work seasonal gigs.
“For many job seekers and professionals, seasonal jobs allow them to increase their pay temporarily by taking on additional work. They can also make connections at businesses where they might want to work in a more long-term capacity, adding valuable people to their professional network,” Reynolds said.
The biggest benefit to seasonal work is it gives employees the opportunity to stay with the company long-term if the job works out well.
“It’s a great way to find potential permanent employees if your seasonal workers end up being a great fit,” Stevenson said.
Unlike Lambas, who has a job waiting for her at the end of the Halloween season, 41% of those looking for seasonal work are hoping for long-term employment, according to Snagajob.
Lambas and her family will continue to take advantage of the benefits seasonal work has brought them, while scaring hundreds of haunted house guests along the way.
“Quality time with the family at the haunted house is really building lasting memories,” Lambas said.