Christmas comes early: Zappos hires 1,000s in Ky.

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. - You'll find some of the most relieved workers in America at the Zappos distribution center in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.

Relief is what happens when you find a job in a town where the unemployment rate is 10.3 percent.

CBS News national correspondent Jim Axelrod reports the online shoe retailer is bucking the national trend and hiring 3,000 workers for its busy Christmas season. So far, Zappos has received 44,000 applications for jobs starting at $8.25 per hour.

Danita Young started barcoding new inventory last week. She'd been out of work for a year and a half. If Zappos hadn't hired her, "I'd still be eating Ramen noodles every night, that was my meal. It was getting bad, very bad."

You hear that a lot from the people here. In this economy, they would have taken any job. But a job at Zappos, even a temporary one, for them, is like hitting the employment lottery.

(Watch the Zappos profile from Sunday Morning)

Workers are treated to lunch everyday, and the vending machines don't require any money. Zappos is #6 on Fortune's Top 100 Companies to Work For list.

Recruiting manager Melissa Leary says the temporary jobs can become permanent. 700 of the 2,000 temp workers hired for the holidays last year were hired full time. "If they come in the door and they are here everyday and positive attitude and a good fit with our company culture, their manager would recommend them come back in the future."

After a hiring process that encourages zaniness and individuality, Vernon O'Bryan got a job. He'd been looking for six months, and was worried about the holidays approaching. He said he's supposed to provide for his "kids and grandkids -- be the Christmas Santa Claus."

In this part of Kentucky at least, Santa will be coming, and you can bet he'll have a great pair of boots.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.