Companies having difficult time finding seasonal workers

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

WALTON, KY (FOX19) - 'Tis the season for seasonal work. With near record unemployment, you'd think many Americans would be pounding the pavement trying to snag a job right now. But several companies say that's not the case. Some companies say they're actually having a tough time finding people to fill their seasonal positions.

While unemployment topped 10-percent nationwide last month, the nation actually added 34,000 temporary jobs. But right now it looks like many job seekers seem to be holding out for the job of their dreams rather than one than just pays the bills.

On Cyber Monday at the GSI Commerce warehouse in Walton, the work keeps rolling in.

"Biggest day of the year," said Paul Chisholm, Vice-President and General Manager of Operations for GSI Commerce. "We're expected to get close to a 100,000 orders in here today, and some 80-odd-percent of those will ship today before midnight."

But the workers are not rolling in.

Executives have hired 450 seasonal employees, but they still need about 150 more workers. All shifts. All days. Workers can earn up to $650 a week with overtime.

"We're looking for gift wrappers, a lot of gift wrappers, pickers, packers, truck loaders," Chisholm said.

Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executive Nancy Spivey said oddly enough GSI Commerce isn't alone.

"We've gotten calls from a couple of employers who are having trouble getting applicants," said Spivey. "They're saying they've got hundreds of positions to fill, but they're not even seeing folks apply for the positions."

Spivey said a large company called her last week asking for help. She said she initially thought it was odd, but then she said GSI Commerce called her a few days later.

"Two calls in one week kind of signal a little bit of a trend," Spivey said. "I think we're seeing folks really looking at what are my options. If I'm drawing unemployment is it worth me doing a seasonal opportunity?"

Dr. George Vredeveld is the Director of the Economic Center for Education Research at the University of Cincinnati. Vredeveld said temporary positions aren't a full-time fix. He added that many job seekers may feel their time is better spent looking for work rather than actually working.

"It could be that these people are making a very rational, analytical decision that it's not in their best interest to do that," Vredeveld said. "Their time is better spent looking at the long run. The job seeker probably has in mind the type of job she wants. The type of job she's really looking for and that seasonal job might not fit those long term plans."

Vredeveld added that unemployment benefits may also be an issue.

"It could provide an incentive for people not to work," Vredeveld said. "Because they've got these unemployment benefits coming in or so maybe it's not as necessary for them to find a job."

Nevertheless, employers like GSI Commerce warn job seekers to not overlook seasonal positions.

"We do have conversion from seasonal to full-time," Chisholm said. "It's based on the business need at the end of the season but typically there's anywhere from 100-150 full-time positions we will fill from the seasonal ranks."

Chisholm said you can apply for a seasonal position on the spot, and if hired, you could start the next day.

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