- In July, some 5.2% of job postings on Indeed advertised signing bonuses, more than three times higher than in the same month in 2019, but below the December 2021 peak.
- Numerous healthcare-related sectors offered signing bonuses, with nursing jobs leading the way.
- Interest in in-person work is returning, but many sectors where jobs are performed in a workplace continue to offer signing bonuses.
Despite recession fears, employer demand for workers is still strong. Job openings remain at historically high levels and job postings on Indeed are well above their pre-pandemic baseline. To attract workers, employers continue to appeal to jobseekers in a variety of ways. One method is to offer signing bonuses.
Although signing bonus offers are showing signs of cooling, they continue to be advertised at high levels. It’s probable that such offers will slacken further as the supply of workers comes into better balance with employer demand, which appears to be returning to more-normal levels.
Variation among occupational sectors abounds. A greater share of in-person sectors advertise signing bonuses than sectors where remote work is common. All in all, the continued prevalence of signing bonus advertisements on Indeed is another sign the labor market remains tight.
Signing bonus offers began surging in the summer of 2020
The share of job postings on Indeed advertising signing bonuses has climbed substantially since the onset of the pandemic. In July 2022, 5.2% of job postings included signing bonus offers. That was down from the December 2021 peak of 5.5%, but still over three times higher than in July 2019.
The slowing so far this year could signal employers have found the workers they want and no longer need to offer hiring incentives. But it may also be that inflation is taking a bite out of business profits, leaving less money available for signing bonuses.
Healthcare-related occupations figure prominently among the top sectors advertising signing bonuses. As of July, nursing led, with nearly 20% of job postings in the field advertising signing bonuses. Driving and veterinary occupations registered more muted increases, rising only a few percentage points from July 2019 to July 2022. Rounding out the top five, dental and medical technician positions both saw signing bonus offers jump by double digits over the same period. Meanwhile, in the three years ending July 2022, childcare job postings advertising signing bonuses increased more than fivefold.
Notably, most of the eight occupational sectors advertising signing bonuses most heavily have high licensing requirements. This means employers compete for talent from a limited pool of workers. For employers in these sectors, advertising signing bonuses is a knock-on effect of that smaller universe of potential workers.
Signing bonuses advertised most in in-person, higher-wage sectors
A theme that cuts across the occupations that advertise signing bonuses heavily is that they are typically performed in-person, not in front of a screen at home. Because of the nature of the work, these jobs have been performed in-person at high rates even prior to the pandemic.
COVID-19 dramatically skewed the balance between supply and demand for labor in these fields, more so than in occupations that can be carried out remotely. In January 2019, low-remote occupations advertised signing bonuses at a 2.0-percentage-point higher rate than high-remote occupations. In July 2022, the spread was 4.7 percentage points.
It’s possible high-remote sectors offering signing bonuses don’t advertise them as much. By contrast, low-remote sectors more often have gone a step further to note signing bonuses directly in the job description. This possible difference illustrates how in-person employers have ramped up their efforts to attract job seekers.
While job seeker’ interest in in-person work is rebounding, employers in in-person sectors still must put their best foot forward when recruiting workers. On the flip side, even if employer demand is starting to cool, efforts to attract workers remain stronger than before the pandemic.
Signing bonuses are attractive to both jobseekers and employers. For those in the job market, a one-time bonus can tip the scales toward an employer. On the employer side, signing bonuses represent a one-time cost that can be discontinued when a hiring crunch subsides. If economic growth continues to slow and the labor market cools, employers may scale back signing bonus offers. That day hasn’t arrived yet. The still-widespread prevalence of signing bonuses indicates the labor market remains strong.
Signing bonus job postings are defined as those that include terms like “signing bonus,” “sign on bonus,” “signing incentive,” or “bonus for signing on” in the job description.