PARKERSBURG - With fall comes a slew of holidays, more shoppers and the need for seasonal employees.
Area businesses are in the process of or have already begun hiring additional help for the holiday season. October, November and December are typically the busiest shopping months of the year as consumers rush to buy items for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve.
"We already have quite a few of our holiday stores moving in and hiring staff," said Katrina Stephens, marketing director for the Grand Central Mall. "We have quite a few stores opening in the next few weeks or even this weekend."
Photo by Michael Erb
Officials at the Grand Central Mall say they expect seasonal hiring to continue to be high this year as stores prepare for the rush of holiday shoppers.
Stephens said October usually marks the start of the holiday hiring season for stores, with many expected to add staff to help with the Christmas shopping rush.
"October is definitely the time you want to get started at those stores," she said. "Some stores are hiring right off the bat, while others are just starting their interview process."
Stephens said some stores post application data online at the Grand Central Mall's website www.grandcentralmall.com or at the mall bulletin board near the theater. Other stores post "Coming Soon" signs on their storefronts with application data available there.
"We have about 100 stores here, and unfortunately not all of them tell us when they are hiring," she said.
Those extra hands are especially helpful right after Thanksgiving, considered by most as the "holiday rush" as shoppers prepare for Christmas, the biggest gift-giving holiday of the year.
Joe Jarvis of Workforce WV said there is no official definition for seasonal employment, such as hours or number of days worked, but said typically those jobs revolve around specific events or times of year, such as the Christmas "season" or even summer tourist months.
"We do not identify jobs specifically as seasonal, but by looking at total nonfarm payroll employment at both the state and county levels throughout the year, changes in employment due to seasonality become apparent," Jarvis said. "For example, one notices an increase in leisure and hospitality employment during the winter in counties with ski resorts."
Representatives of Workforce West Virginia said those seasonal jobs can both reduce and inflate the state's jobless rate, depending on the time of year. As more workers get hired for temporary employment, the unemployment rate seems to drop, then skyrockets as those jobs end.
Officials use a formula to "seasonally adjust" the state's unemployment rate to reduce the amount of swing in the numbers.
"Seasonal jobs certainly affect our statistics," Jarvis said. "They can indeed provide boosts as well as declines to the numbers. That is why adjusting for seasonality is so important."
While nationally many retailers are warning they plan to hire fewer seasonal workers this year and forecasters are predicting sluggish holiday sales, Stephens said she doubts that trend will affect local stores.
"We track our sales on a monthly basis, and we are actually doing very well. We saw an increase in sales last year, and we don't expect holiday employment to be down this year," she said. "Right after Halloween, we dive into the holiday season."