Mid-Michigan is seeing a burst of holiday hiring but the season could bring mixed gifts for jobs seekers. While there are many positions available, competition is stiff.
A Meijer hiring event in Lansing drew nearly 500 applicants for 100 seasonal distribution center jobs. The positons are seasonal, part time and second shift.
State labor analysts say demand for temp work is especially high, because while unemployment is improving, it has been a slow climb. Like a buyer's market for real estate, Michigan is in an employer's market for seasonal jobs.
"You've got to show that you really do want to work, that you're prepared, that you're eager," Edythe Hatter-Williams, President of Capital Area Michigan Works said.
Meijer, Target and Macy's all plan to add jobs locally this holiday season, but employment experts say the lines to get those jobs might remind you of Black Friday.
"People are going to take what work they can find if they have to and a lot of time that's going to mean temp jobs and part time jobs until the economy gets fully going," regional jobs analyst Mark Reffitt, with the State of Michigan said.
Retailers are optimistic about the holiday season. The National Retail Federation is predicting a 4.1 percent boost in sales from last year. Locally, that outlook is expected to translate to 800 new seasonal jobs.
"They are hiring, so they are looking for folks," Hatter-Williams said. "It's just that you have to set yourself above the rest."
The most recent data puts statewide unemployement at a seasonally adjusted 9.3 percent for September. That's a one-tenth of a percent improvement from the month before.
"It's tough, there's no doubt about it, it's incredibly tough," Reffitt said of the job outlook.
"I think it is more competitive," Hatter-Williams said, talking about this year's seasonal work.
She says some job seekers are looing for extra holiday cash, others a foot in the door. According to Michigan Works, even temporary retail experience will boost a resume.
"You've got to make that employer remember you and then of course go back and follow up," Hatter-Williams added. "Treat this as a full-time permanent job."
Michigan adds some seasonal jobs in October, but the bulk of new hires comes in November and December.