Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Ho-Hum Holiday Hiring?

Allison Michael Orenstein | Getty Images

The signs are everywhere—next to the checkout lines, in storefronts and on websites. Companies want to hire you for the holidays. But, a gig during the holiday rush may be a bit... ho-hum.

Think undesirable hours, fewer perks and less of a chance of that job becoming full-time.

"Retailers definitely have the upper hand in this job market, but their plans to open on Thanksgiving and in the wee hours on Black Friday will likely require them to pay some level of overtime wages to those who end up working those shifts." said Challenger, Gray and Christmas CEO John Challenger. "So, for job seekers who are willing to work the odd hours, there is a chance to make some extra cash."

His job outplacement and consulting firm expects holiday hiring to be about the same as last year or perhaps a little lower. Last month, it finds retailers added 141,500 retail jobs versus 144,100.

Challenger said, "Heading into this holiday season, we were hit with several economic reports that indicated a slowdown in the recovery, lower consumer spending and a decline in consumer confidence. The news came just as retailers were probably mapping out their hiring plans."

Retailers have still come a long way from the holidays in 2008 - which was the worst hiring season in 22 years. That year, Challenger said retailers hired 324,000 total workers during the entire holiday season of October through December. Over the last three months of 2010, retail employment experienced a net gain of about 627,000.

Seasonal gigs are often viewed as a way to get your foot in the door. But, worker beware. Times may be changing.

Over the past several years, Challenger has seen retail employment in the first quarter of the year fall by more jobs than were added in the final three months of the previous year.

So, if you take a seasonal position and it does not become permanent, do you get scrooged out of your unemployment benefits? It depends where you live. Unemployment benefit rules vary from state to state.

Fact and Opinion Economics Chief Economist Robert Brusca believes unemployed workers must carefully weigh the pros and cons. In some instances, he said it may be better to stay unemployed and look for a better paying job rather than accept a lower paying one.

"This is an individual issue of choice and risk. Benefits do run out," said Brusca. "Overall, if a worker does not take a part time job that pays less than his benefits someone else will take it. The unemployment rate is nine percent."

Maybe it pays to accept that yuletide job, after all.

Stephanie is Squawk Box producer. Follow her on twitter @StephLandsman

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