Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017
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Seasonal jobs unfilled as holiday nears

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    The entrance to the Toledo area UPS facility. The hub is still seeking another 379 temporary workers for this holiday season.

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    An Amazon.com package awaits delivery via UPS in Palo Alto, Calif. Amazon's growing presence is creating an "Amazon Effect," in which seasonal jobs are being shifted from traditional retail to the warehouse and delivery sectors. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

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The traditional start of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday, is just nine days away, but there are still plenty of job opportunities in metro Toledo for those interested in temporary seasonal employment.

But many of those opportunities are not retail-related. Instead they are in the delivery and transportation services — a change that one employment analyst blamed on the nation’s largest online seller.

Plentiful seasonal jobs in metro Toledo this late in the year contrasts with the national picture, which shows shrinking job gains for the holiday season due mainly to staffing cutbacks by retailers.

Chicago-based global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., said last week that seasonal job gains in October totaled 136,700 jobs, down 8 percent from last year. It is the second year of declines.

CEO John Challenger said the drop is the “Amazon Effect” — the product of consumers’ growing online shopping habits shifting seasonal job gains from traditional retailers to warehousing and transportation.

In the Toledo area, delivery services lead the late hiring surge to offset the growth in shipped packages.

UPS, which in August began a quest to hire 1,000 workers — a 25 percent increase over last year — to work out of its South Toledo hub at 1550 Perrysburg-Holland Rd., still hasn’t met its needs.

“They are in fact still looking for a variety of different positions to fill,” Dan McMackin, a UPS spokesman, said.

Atlanta-based UPS expects to handle a record 750 million parcels this season, with deliveries between Black Friday and New Year's Eve up 5 percent from a year ago.

UPS said it’s still seeking 200 package handlers, 150 driver helpers, 15 package car drivers, and 14 feeder (tractor-trailer) drivers for its Toledo hub.

Meanwhile, delivery competitor FedEx is still involved in hiring 750 workers for its local hub at 100 J. St. in Perrysburg. Early last month it began looking for applicants to work as package handlers and support staff.

On Monday electronics retailer Best Buy Co. said it still must fill over 100 positions by year’s end at its regional distribution center in Findlay.

According to Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, seasonal retail hiring has fallen each year since 2013. Last year it was 641,000, down 9.6 percent.

Still, in the Toledo area dozens of “help wanted” signs can be seen. And numerous job openings are posted at employment websites, said Mike Veh, Lucas County director of business and workforce services.

Within 20 miles of the central Toledo 43604 zip code, there are 477 jobs openings currently, according to the state’s OhioMeansJobs.com website.

“I think it’s an indication of an improving economy,” Mr. Veh said. “Most of it is retail and sales-related jobs, but much of the time those can become full-time jobs,” he added.

In fact, employers this season are eagerly touting that their seasonal jobs can lead to regular employment.

FedEx said that last year over a third of its seasonal package handlers were retained by the company at the end of the season. Kohl’s said that last year nearly 14,000 of its 69,000 temporary workers became full-time.

Contact Jon Chavez at jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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