State economists predict fewer holiday jobs in 2011

From staff reports:

Retailers are ramping up hiring for the holidays, but the increase will likely just match, or fall slightly below, last year’s numbers.

Economists with the Washington State Employment Security Department project that retailers will add nearly 13,000 jobs statewide from October through December, with most of the gains coming in November. Last year, they hired an additional 14,700 workers, which was about 17 percent higher than the agency’s prediction.

“Seasonal work often can be a gateway back into the workforce for the unemployed,” said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause. “However, the uncertainty that retailers are feeling will make that less of an option this year.”

As in years past, general merchandisers, also known as “big box” stores, should lead the way by adding some 7,000 jobs. That’s up slightly from the same period last year.

On the other hand, clothing and clothing-accessory stores expect to hire fewer than 3,300, down more than 1,000 from the 2010 holiday season. And the remaining retail-trade categories will swell their ranks by 3,500, about 500 more than a year ago.

The latest state projections put annual retail growth at 1.4 percent through the second quarter of 2012, according to Dave Wallace, acting chief economist for Employment Security.

Those interested in holiday jobs can visit their local WorkSource center or scan updated job lists online at


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