Tough economy limits seasonal jobs

November 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
California added 27,000 jobs last month, the second largest hiring spree in the country, but a new Labor Department report shows the state still has the nation's second highest unemployment rate at 11.7 percent. With so many people out of work, the holiday shopping season offers some hope, but this year those seasonal jobs are tough to come by.

The holiday shopping season is the biggest selling period of the year for retailers and with the usual wave of sales, comes the onslaught of seasonal worker applications.

"I applied to a lot of places," said Vicki Tu, a 20-year-old employee.

According to the National Retail Federation, last year retailers hired half a million seasonal workers. This year, they're expected to hire roughly the same amount. One of the main reasons is due to the amount of online shoppers.

In 2009, online shopping accounted for only 11 percent of overall sales. Last year, shoppers bought just under 30 percent of holiday items online. This year, that's expected to jump to 35 percent, which means stores will need fewer helpers who will work longer hours.

"If you are available to work late night to early morning, that flexibility will help you get the job," said Thomas Baity from Manpower Silicon Valley, a job placement center.

More retailers are staying open on Thanksgiving and Black Friday starts at midnight in some stores. Tom Higgins, 20, seasonal worker will work an 18 hour-shift on Friday and he's hoping it'll pay off.

"They're only going to keep three to four people for full time and they are hiring 50 seasonal," said Higgins. When asked if he was worried, he said, "A little, yeah."

Employers continue to hold all the cards.

"I get almost 10, 20 people a day asking me for a job from 16 year olds all the way to grown men in suits," said Kaipo Calloway, a Shoe Palace manager.

Right now, Santa Clara County's unemployment rate is 9.5 percent.


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