Experts: Holiday spending off to strong start, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to full-time jobs

Proposition 206, which went into effect in July, may make employees even more reluctant to hire full-time employees – especially during this holiday season. (Photo by Allyson Hoskins/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Americans are dealing out more cash this year for the holidays, but experts say that’s not necessarily a good thing for those looking for work in Arizona.

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday – the busiest shopping time of the year – 174 million U.S. consumers hurried through stores and navigated websites to find the best deals. That’s 10 million more shoppers than anticipated, according to a National Retail Federation analysis released Tuesday.

To keep up with the rush of holiday shoppers, stores usually hire seasonal workers, but experts said these part-time positions take away from available full-time jobs and their benefits.

Amanda Salvione, an attorney at Radix Law in Scottsdale, said employers might hire more part-time workers because they don’t have to offer the same type of benefits to them.

“If you offer health benefits, you probably don’t give them to part-time people,” she said.

Proposition 206, which voters approved in November, may make employers even more reluctant to hire full-time employees. Known as the “Fair Wages and Healthy Families act,” the measure will raise minimum wage to $12 hour by 2020 – a 50 percent increase in four years.

Salvione said the current minimum wage is $10 an hour, and it will rise to $10.50 this January.

Full-time employees also will earn one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked – up to 40 hours a year. But part-time, temp and seasonal workers do not accumulate the same benefits, Salvione said.

Twenty-nine percent of Arizona residents who hold part-time jobs said they would prefer to have full-time positions, according to a Federal Reserve report. The report said many employers didn’t hire full-time because they didn’t want to pay for health care.

The good news, experts said, is that increased wages has led to additional consumer spending, said Ana Smith, a spokeswoman at the National Retail Federation.

“Wages have slightly gone up … therefore, (consumers) are more willing now than ever before to splurge more during the holiday season,” she said.

Consumers spent an average of $335.47 over the holiday weekend – with 75 percent of that spending going toward gifts, according to the federation’s survey.