Big Retailers Ramp Up Seasonal Hiring, But Will It Pay Off?

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Toys R UsToys R Us is the latest retailer planning to ramp up seasonal hiring this holiday.

But just-released sales forecasts on the busiest shopping season of the year raise the question: Will all those added store associates be kept busy?

The toy chain announced plans to sign on 45,000 seasonal employees to staff its stores and distribution centers for the winter holidays.

The number reflects an increase from the estimated 40,000 seasonal workers it hired last year, due in part to more positions needed to fulfill orders resulting from new initiatives, such as its "Buy Online, Pick Up In Store," "Ship from Store" and "Ship to Store" programs, as well as its new free layaway and Hot Toy Reservation services.

Meanwhile, Kohl's (KSS) set plans last week to hire 58,000 holiday employees, about two dozen more than it did in 2011, just as Wal-Mart (WMT) will sign up more than 50,000 workers, slightly up from last year, the company said.

But it remains to be seen if the staffing boost, with 36% of retailers planning to hire more than last holiday, will end up being warranted.

According to a Moody's Analytics (MCO) report released this week, U.S. retail sales in the fourth quarter will grow at the slowest pace since 2009.

"The 2012 holiday season will be a mild disappointment for U.S. retailers expecting significant growth in sales," Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics for Moody's Analytics, said in the report.

"The numbers will rise but less vigorously than they did a year ago. Consumers are still strapped for cash, with a high unemployment rate and a large pool of workers who have left the labor force causing the growth of wage income to slip, even relative to modest employment gains," he said.

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Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte's chief economist, agreed, although the accounting firm has issued a more optimistic holiday sales outlook, forecasting a 3.5% to 4% lift in holiday sales over last year.

"Economic headwinds nagging consumers this fall include stubbornly high gasoline prices that continue to creep up and soft housing and job markets," Steidtmann said, in a statement.

Still, retailers are optimistic.

Retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon surveyed retail executives from a variety of store formats and sizes: More than half (56%) said their 2012 holiday sales will increase.

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Big Retailers Ramp Up Seasonal Hiring, But Will It Pay Off?

The company is part of the "100,000 Jobs Mission," a coalition of 55 companies who have committed to hiring 100,000 veterans by the year 2020. To date, over 18,000 veterans have found jobs through the program -- including some at Macy's.

Employee Review: "The management is competent. Employees are given a good discount and still able to use coupons. You can pick up more hours online when they become available."*

Number of Job Openings: 8,836

Find jobs at Macy's.

The once-dominant toy retailer is opening many new stores, while "re-opening" other stores in an effort to improve its brand.

Employee Review: "Pretty solid paid time-off and vacation packages, reasonably priced medical/dental insurance. Opportunities to advance within the company."*

Number of Job Openings: 8,259

Find jobs at Toys R Us.

The venerable retail company is working on revamping product lines in an effort to better connect with customers in 2012.

Employee Review: "My favorite thing about working with Sears is the stability. The company has been around for over 100 years and is one of the largest in the world. It has great benefits and work-life balance is excellent. I don't have to worry about being on-call on nights and weekends. They have really great quality people who are easy to get along with."*

Number of Job Openings: 3,508

Find jobs at Sears.

UnitedHealth Group currently provides health insurance services to more than 75 million people worldwide. It recently joined the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a coalition of companies dedicated to hiring 100,000 veterans by 2020.

Employee Review: "I really enjoyed my time at UnitedHealth Group. The trainers were very knowledgeable and were always there to answer any questions that I had. I worked as a claims associate for just a few short months before being promoted to another department. I then went on to work from home! Only left this company because of personal issues not related to my job. Great place to work!"*

Number of Job Openings: 2,696

Find jobs at UnitedHealth Group.

Even if they aren't listed on the government's USAJobs.gov website, jobs at military bases are plentiful. The U.S. Army provides a variety of openings at its bases for Americans of all backgrounds.

Employee Review: "Excellent pay and benefits. Superior job security and work experience. Excellent advancement opportunities for growth and career progression. Variety of assignments."*

Number of Job Openings: 2,015

Find jobs at the U.S. Army.

AT&T is looking to fill jobs, retail and otherwise, with military vets. In addition, they have committed to a $350 million program, called "Aspire," which includes a job-shadowing program aimed at bringing students into the workforce.

Employee Review: "They provide great benefits and pay. I know they match quite a bit for 401(k) investment. It is a great job for someone interested in technology and learning about new technologies. Also, it is great to know that you are helping others out on a daily basis."*

Number of Job Openings: 1,990

Find jobs at AT&T Retail.

The New York-based financial-services giant plans to hire 300 additional bankers and brokers throughout the year, in efforts to build a wealth management group.

Employee Review: "Nice co-workers, good hours, pleasant management, good location, interesting work spanning decades of involvement in the country. Good springboard for future jobs."*

Number of Job Openings: 1,538

Find jobs at Citi.

Known for their copiers in large offices, Xerox provides many other services to businesses. It's expanding a call center and adding jobs across the company.

Employee Review: "The company listens to their employees. There is a program in place to submit cost and time saving ideas where they share savings. New internal education opportunities exist and are updated frequently."*

Number of Jobs: 1,444

Find jobs at Xerox Services.

Earlier this year, Wells Fargo agreed to a partnership with the Obama administration in which it pledged to provide part-time summer jobs to young people. The company committed to providing at least 1,000 jobs, and the program is paying off.

Employee Review: "Large company with a lot of training; encouraged to change positions/departments within bank to grow and learn; good senior management and diversity commitment."*

Number of Jobs: 1,397

Find jobs at Wells Fargo.

Aflac is restructuring its marketing and sales approach, bringing the two into one division. The company also was named by IDG's Computerworld as one of the "Best Places to Work in Information Technology for 2011."

Employee Review: "Great product that provides peace of mind. This is an easy sell if you point out why there is such a need for it. Nice incentives, but the bar is set high."*

Number of Jobs: 843

Find Jobs at Aflac.

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