Holiday hiring off to strong start — permanent jobs still weak

People looking for retail work during the holidays, will find prospects are the best they’ve been in years.

So says global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Challenger says its analysis of Labor Department data shows that the holiday hiring season is off to its best start since 2006 and seasonal job growth should exceed 600,000 for the first time since 2007.

Finding permanent employment remains difficult. The Labor Department reported today job openings fell in September, a sign hiring will remain weak.

But if you’re looking for temporary holiday work, retailers are hiring.

“The latest employment situation report showed that retail payrolls experienced a net gain of 150,900 in October. That is three times greater than October 2009, when just 47,600 retail jobs were added. In 2008 — the worst holiday-hiring season in 22 years — retailers added only 38,600 seasonal workers,” Challenger said in a statement released this week.

With the national unemployment rate near 10 percent, competition for holiday jobs is expected to be tough. To improve your shot at landing a holiday job, Challenger recommends “visiting stores during slower hours and initiating face-to-face interactions with store managers.”

And consider small retail stores as well as the large national chains.