Holiday jobs still there, if you're flexible

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Seasonal hiring in central Ohio is expected to be about flat to a bit stronger than last year, with plenty of jobs still available for those who are flexible and act quickly, experts say.

The outlook comes amid a tepid economy and continued political fighting in Washington. The National Retail Federation is forecasting $602.1 billion in holiday sales this year — a 3.9 percent increase from last year’s $579.5 billion — with the group expressing hope that the problems in Washington won’t put a dent in the holiday season.

“I’ve heard kind of mixed signals,” said Bill LaFayette, owner of the Columbus economic consulting company Regionomics, noting a decline in consumer confidence and numbers that show employment gains slowing in the Columbus area.

For example, Macy’s in September announced plans to hire 83,000 seasonal workers this year, about 3,000 more than last year, while Toys R Us said it will hire 45,000 seasonal employees, about the same as last year.

Clients of staffing companies such as Adecco and Manpower need workers for distribution operations, call centers and order fulfillment. Companies also need more people to work in stores this time of year.

“The message we’re seeing out there is very stable with last year,” said Sue Ellen Deiley, managing director in central Ohio for Experis, a professional-services company that is part of Manpower. “In central Ohio, it is consistent with last year.”

She said clients, overall, appear to be mostly confident about the season.

“They feel pretty good,” she said. “I think they’re optimistic.”

Rhonda Arledge, regional vice president of Adecco Staffing, who oversees operations in Columbus and Cincinnati, said demand seems to be greater than last year.

“It’s been crazy,” she said. “There are more opportunities than people to fill orders.”

She and Deiley said applicants can often be placed within two or three days of applying, assuming that they meet the hiring company’s demands and are flexible on scheduling by working nights and weekends.

Many jobs pay from $8 to $11 per hour or more, depending on the worker’s skills, they said. Hourly pay, in some cases, can top $20 for workers with certain computer or technical skills, Deiley said.

“Every company is looking for consistent performers who are punctual, who don’t call in sick, who are willing to go the extra mile,” she said. “These are people you want to add to your team."

While workers may be hired for seasonal work, it can lead to a permanent job, they said.

“It’s a great benefit to the associate to not look at this as, 'I’m just a temp,'" Arledge said. “There are great opportunities, long term."

While seasonal employment most often focuses on retail, accounting, finance and administrative positions also are available around the holidays.

Amy Roberson, branch manager for Robert Half International in Columbus, said the end of the year tends to be busiest as companies need workers for projects or to fill in for employees on vacation.

She said filling openings can be tough in a market where the unemployment rate for such jobs can be under 2 percent.

“In accounting and finance, it’s always a challenge,” she said, “I don’t care what quarter it is. I don’t care what year it is.”


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