Holiday shopping creates thousands of jobs

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SALT LAKE CITY — With the Black Friday madness just over 24 hours away, retail workers are gearing up for the big rush. The holidays aren't just about shopping - they also bring a host of new jobs as well.

Analysts estimate around 700,000 temporary jobs were created this year nationally. That's a slightly higher number than last year. Many of these jobs are just for the holiday rush, but some employees might end up with a full-time job after the last tree is taken down.

It's a busy time at UPS. Holiday deliveries are in full swing, and the company has hired thousands of helpers to give the drivers an extra hand.

Jane Moffat has been a temporary seasonal helper for the past seven years. She helps her husband Steve - who has been a UPS driver for 20 years - save a lot of time.

"Usually when we get to a stop, Steve's already gotten it ready, hands it to me and I run it up to the house and the business. Then it's on to the next house or business, where we do it again," she said.

Steve says he definitely appreciates the extra hands.

"I'd say on average (it saves) a couple of hours a day," he said. "I don't use the helper all day, just four or five hours in the middle of the day."

On the retail side, shoppers have been camping out in front of some stores for days now -- ready to charge inside when the doors finally open. Newly-hired temporary employees have gone through training to handle the increased activities throughout the holidays.

Depending on the retailer, staffing increases can be significant from October to December.

"We're measuring the retail trades industry and over the years, we're showed it's about a 5- to 7-percent increase, depending on the season," said Curt Stewart with the Utah Department of Workforce Services. "That's roughly 7,000 jobs."

That's just in Utah. Many of the temporary workers end up staying on after the holidays. Target, for example, kept 30 percent of its temporary help from last year.

Seasonal work or not, these jobs do make an economic spike.

"We might see more because the economy has picked up so much here in Utah," said Stewart. "Maybe we'll see a little bit more but whatever we get is certainly going to help the economy."

Extra holiday help isn't just for the regular stores either. Amazon is adding 5,000 people at its various distribution centers around the country because of the huge amount of online shopping. That will kick off next week for Cyber Monday.


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Keith McCord


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