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Security guard rates climbing

Understanding Rising Security Guard Costs During a Recession

By Carlos Hazbun | Virtual Security | No Comments

Understanding Rising Security Guard Costs During a Recession

In times of high unemployment, wages typically drop as more workers enter the job market and vacancies become easier to fill. However, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, security companies have faced job openings that won’t fill up, and in many cities, the cost of a security guard per hour is going up considerably. What is going on?

A number of factors are causing on-site security guard wages to hit levels that many small businesses cannot afford at a time when staffing budgets are falling.

Family staying home

People are staying home

For many workers, the health and safety risks that come with doing public-facing work aren’t worth it, especially among people who have pre-existing health conditions or live with high-risk family members.

Until recently, many workers could make more staying home on unemployment than they could working. Even with the recent reduction in unemployment benefits, many would rather tough it out at home than risk getting sick (or worse) for a low wage.

In order to inspire prospects, many essential businesses like grocery stores are offering hiring bonuses, hazard pay, more sick time, higher wages, and other perks. Security companies now need to compete with these businesses for a smaller pool of workers.

People need to cover childcare

A significant percentage of people who are out of work left their job to cover childcare when schools shuttered in April. By some estimates, as much as 10% of the economic slowdown is caused by the closure of schools and daycare centers alone.

Even in situations where two parents can share coverage, the limitations put on availability and lack of flexibility make a demanding job like security tough to balance. Essential overnight and flexible coverage shifts are especially difficult for parents to cover.

Security guard staffing budgets are falling

At a time when wages are going up, a lot of companies are cutting back on their spending. Rather than cut staffing in other departments, many companies will reduce their spending on security.

With less to spend, security teams can’t hire the people they need to cover all shifts. That can create a feedback loop that drives turnover as existing guards get more hours and expose themselves to exhaustion (and a higher potential risk for infection in public-facing roles).

When a guard gets sick, they can’t just tough it out like they might have done before — that could prove to be deadly if they have COVID. Instead, that guard has to stay home, and the remaining guards have to cover shifts for days or even weeks. More of them burnout and quit, deepening the shortage. Soon, there aren’t enough people to cover any shifts.

What to do?

While staffing issues are especially acute during the pandemic, finding good quality officers always presents a challenge for companies. A lot of businesses and property owners are turning to virtual solutions like ECAMSECURE’s virtual command center technology to maintain security coverage.

Mobile Surveillance Units created for use as virtual security guards from ECAMSECURE offer 24/7 video and audio surveillance that can be used to support existing security teams. Surveillance technology is backed by professional guards that monitor video feeds from our U.S. based, UL-Listed central command center. When our team spots something suspicious, we use two-way audio to interrupt a crime in progress while we notify stakeholders and dispatch law enforcement.


The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is creating an uncertain climate for many business owners. In nearly every industry, a company’s ability to innovate and meet new challenges will be a deciding factor in their long term success. The security industry is no different.

Many of the technologies that are finding new use during the pandemic will revolutionize the way the security world will run in the years to come. There’s no better time to lean into disruption than now.

Get security without the costs of an in-person guard. Learn more about ECAMSECURE’S Virtual Guard services.