Companies around the Triad are hiring for the holidays

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Michelle Elliott prepares clearance merchandise for shipment to another location in preparation for new merchandise. Elliott was hired last week as a seasonal employee at Belk in Hanes Mall. She hopes the temporary job will lead to full time employment after the holiday season. (Walt Unks/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The local holiday job market is shaping up to be better than last year’s based on plans by a number of companies to hire more temporary employees than they did in 2013, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Many companies are putting in orders for holiday workers much sooner than they did a year ago, said Larry Calloway, the veteran supervisor for the Winston-Salem office of the N.C. Department of Commerce, Division of Workforce Solutions.

“We had a significant increase in job orders this year,” Calloway said.

As of Tuesday, of the more than 500 jobs in the office’s database covering Forsyth and six surrounding counties, about 100 were seasonal and part-time jobs, including retail and package delivery.

“More are coming in every day,” Calloway said. “I’m getting a fax in or a phone call.”

He said that some employers are entering jobs themselves at www.ncworks.gov, and he knows of more than eight temporary agencies that are recruiting for temporary job assignments.

The increase in jobs and recruiting activity tells Calloway that “labor is getting harder to find.”

He said that employers are saying that they have plenty of work for people who show up, and can past background checks and drug tests.

Calloway also said that some people don’t get enthusiastic about working for $7.50 to $9 an hour, which is the hiring range for many temporary jobs.

Outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., based in Chicago, expects demand for seasonal workers this year to be boosted by continued employment gains and consumer spending in the country.

Challenger expects seasonal employment gains in the retail sector to significantly outpace 2013, when 786,200 workers were added during the final three months of the year.

“We could see retailers add more than 800,000 seasonal workers for the first time since 1999,” John A. Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said last month in a press release.

Still, Challenger said that an increase in holiday hiring is not guaranteed.

“As more people do their holiday shopping over the Internet, the need for extra workers on the sales floors at the malls and in department stores may decline,” he said.

Belk is hiring more than 100 part-time workers — selling associates and sales support associates in the Winston-Salem/Triad area, a 25 percent increase from last year.

“We are hiring more to ensure we have associates on the floor while our customers shop, and because we like to offer a flexible schedule for our associates, that requires hiring additional help,” said Jessica Graham, a spokeswoman for Belk.

The majority of the retailer’s hiring will be complete by mid-November, but Belk plans to continue adding employees through the first week of December.

Michelle Elliott of Winston-Salem has worked in retail for more than five years now. She recently was hired for a seasonal position that runs through Jan. 15 at Belk at Hanes Mall.

“I mostly ring up customers — their final purchases— and help people find clothing,” Elliott said.

She said that her new job will help her buy gifts for her two children — a 10-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl.

“My son is expensive,” Elliott said. “He likes the big stuff. He wants a dirt bike. He wants an iPad.”

She also wants to save enough to eventually get another car and apartment.

Elliott’s desire is for her temporary job at Belk to turn into a permanent position.

“Typically, about 20 percent of our seasonal hires become permanent part-time associates,” Graham said.

The Resource Company is hiring seasonal employees for Dewey’s Bakery.

“It is retail sales positions at their holiday locations,” said Kelly Davis, a branch manager and project manager for The Resource Company. “They spread basically across the Triad area and down to the Triangle and also in Charlotte.”

Davis said she’s not getting the quick turnarounds on job postings as she did last year, but she said hiring is going well.

“I’m getting fewer candidates to select from, but I’m getting better quality candidates” she said.

UPS expects to hire between 90,000 and 95,000 seasonal employees to support an anticipated holiday surge in package deliveries. More than 1,400 of these workers will be in North Carolina, of which about 400 are estimated to be in the Triad area.

UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said that a sunrise sort shift has been added in Greensboro.

The seasonal positions are primarily package sorters, loaders and delivery helpers, and there are a limited number of driver positions.

“People should apply,” Rosenberg said. “There are opportunities, and it does give them a foot in the door when the permanent opportunities are presented.”

FedEx expects to add more than 50,000 seasonal positions across its operating companies. Jobs include package handlers, helpers, drivers and other support positions. FedEx Ground will add about 150 seasonal positions in its district that handles the Triad.

“Based on our growth expectations and network expansion, the majority of those seasonal workers will have the opportunity to continue working with us after the holiday season,” said David Westrick, a spokesman for FedEx Ground.

J.C. Penney is adding 35,000 positions for the holiday season, about the same as last year, throughout the holiday season.

Kohl’s said its 2014 holiday hiring number will be 67,000 at its stores, distribution centers and credit facilities companywide. That’s a 15 percent increase over last year. Each of its stores will add about 50 seasonal workers. Most jobs will be filled by mid-November.

Macy’s Inc. is increasing its seasonal associates at its Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores by 3.6 percent to 86,000 companywide compared with 83,000 in 2013. Of those 2014 holiday employees, 600 associates will work in Macy’s stores in North Carolina and South Carolina. That’s a 6 percent increase over last year.

Toys R Us is hiring the same number of people as last year — 45,000 — at its stores and distribution centers nationwide, including 130 people in the Triad. Positions range from sales to stocking shelves. Hiring will continue up to Christmas.

Target plans to hire 70,000 people for seasonal work throughout the country. The number is the same as in 2013. The number of people hired at its stores varies by location.

The United States Postal Service, known as USPS, started advertising for seasonal workers as early as August, but is still hiring in some areas. Positions include casual workers for the processing facilities in Greensboro, support clerk positions in some retail offices and additional carrier positions in some areas.

Walmart expects to hire 60,000 temporary associates at its stores companywide through December. Last year, the retailer hired 55,000 seasonal workers. Positions include cashiers, sales associates, truck unloaders and stockers. The number of people hired for a store depends on the location’s needs.