Seasonal hirings not so plentiful in Northern Nevada

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

With the 2009 holiday shopping season under way, fewer employers are seeking seasonal employees this year amid projections of weak retail sales, regional employment agencies say.

"There are some seasonal jobs out there, just not to the degree that we're used to," said Roberta Ramsey, the center manager for Job Connect in Sparks.

Ramsey said retailers and other businesses that have traditionally looked for help during the holidays have cut back this year.

"I would say employers have been very conservative in their seasonal hiring," she said. "For the most part what we're seeing is rather than laying off staff, they're keeping staff and using them as their seasonals."

Retail sales for this holiday season are anticipated to be marginally better than 2008, with Americans expected to spend on average $638, up from $616 last year, according to a recent Gallup Poll.

Retailers hired 63,500 workers in October, up from the 59,100 hired in October 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Between October and December last year, retailers hired 384,300 workers, the least seasonal employees hired since 1989 when retailers added 380,500 workers, according to the BLS.

Morry Brookler, branch manager for Command Center Inc., a Reno staffing agency, said employers aren't filling as many positions as they did in 2005 or 2006, the peak of the housing boom in Nevada, but added there is work out there.

"A lot of it is to augment their own staff," Brookler said of potential employers. "A lot of the large companies, because they've laid off a lot of people, what we're seeing is more demand for fill work for people who are getting sick or taking a little bit of time off."

Still, some retailers are increasing their ranks this holiday season.

Best Buy has been reported to have increased its seasonal staff this year to 25,000 up from 18,000 last year, especially in light of competitor Circuit City closing its doors earlier this year.

"We hired more seasonal this year than we did last year," said Leon Kauffmann, store manager for the Best Buy in Douglas County. "This year the marketplace is a little bit different than it was last year."

The J.C. Penney in Carson City hired about 35 employees for the holiday season, said store manager John Ruppert.

Other opportunities could emerge after the holiday season, Ramsey said, especially as more stimulus-funded construction projects ramp up.

The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation in Nevada will announce on Dec. 9 more information about a training program for workers interested in weatherizing homes, a program funded by stimulus dollars.

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