Shutdown shakes jittery seasonal job market

Shutdown shakes jittery seasonal job market

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by Joe Smith, KGW Business Reporter

kgw.com

Posted on October 14, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 14 at 7:32 PM

PORTLAND -- The government shutdown is shaking consumer confidence and in turn business confidence. It comes at the most important time for retailers: Holiday season.

Holiday spending is expected to increase just 3.9 percent to $602 billion this year. That's up from 3.5 percent last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The forecast hinges on Congress.

Originally, national big box retailers were expected to hire as many as 780,000 helpers. That’s down to 700,000 seasonal employees, some 50,000 fewer than last year.

Consumer sentiment slipped in Sept. to its lowest level since April and hasn't rebounded. Many shoppers are feeling uneasy as the shutdown continues.

Fred Meyer is one of the few retailers sticking to their holiday hiring plan. The company has openings available for nearly every retail position, from the deli to home electronics.

“We had a really strong back-to-school season, which is a normal indicator of how our holidays are going to go,” said Judi Swift with Fred Meyer stores. “But with what the government’s doing right now it's kind of up in the air. Our plan is to go forward and if we have to adjust, we will adjust. “

The bulk of hiring takes place within the next few weeks for most retailers.

Holiday season can account for 20 to 40 percent of a retailer's annual sales.

At the Fred Meyer Hollywood store, one of their largest, so far 60 people have been hired with 50 more to go.

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