Big companies competing for shrinking pool of seasonal workers

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Unemployment in California has dropped to a record low 4.1 percent. But that rosy overall jobs picture means businesses expect to have a tougher time finding temporary workers for the holidays.

This year, big companies like Amazon, Target and UPS are trying to hire from the same smaller-than-normal pool of seasonal workers. ABC7 News went to a job fair UPS held near the Oakland Airport Friday.

The first voice job seekers heard was from a UPS supervisor telling them to "sign in and take a badge."

That's so they can enter the huge distribution center off Hegenberger Road.

The second step was to wait for the call to go inside and fill out the paperwork, like Michael Anderson did. "We filled out an application and did the online process, too. So it's like a two-parter and they'll have you come back maybe next week and have a personal interview," he said.

Sabrina Juarez was applying for a job as a package handler. After all, the single mom has been working out with a pair of precious bundles -- her two daughters - ages 4 and 6 months. "I have a lot of experience lifting heavy things, all the time, so I think i'll be good for it," she said.

UPS is hoping to hire more than 1,700 seasonal workers in the Bay Area this year.

But, at this location, the pool of applicants appeared smaller than in years past. That didn't bother Misha Woods at all.

"I am happy. More jobs for me. Competition? You guys stay at home, " she told us.

Labor analysts say when it comes to hiring, times are good. "We have the lowest unemployment rate at 4.1 percent, announced Friday morning, since 1976."

Michael Bernick ran California's unemployment agency from 1999 to 2004. He says a red-hot job market is good for the overall economy, but not so good for companies that rely on seasonal hires.

"For part time jobs, seasonal jobs in particular, employers are finding it more difficult to find people," he says.

This hiring fair is one of more than 170 across the country, where UPS hopes to find 40,000 seasonal hires -- many of them looking for jobs for reasons like Woods.'

"I'm just trying to make more money for next year, and get started on saving for my daughter and of course Christmas is coming up and we're trying to get ready for Christmas trees and for dinner," she said.
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