If you're trying to find a holiday job, there's good news. Postings for retail and transportation jobs -- the typical seasonal work of ringing up sales and delivering gifts -- have soared since this time last year, according to job search site Indeed.com.
In October there were 437,295 postings for retail positions and 138,685 for transportation -- that's predominantly seasonal drivers for the likes of UPS and FedEx. That's up 68% and 107% respectively, according to a site spokesman.
The data bolsters federal employment figures released Thursday that show unemployment claims stabilizing. While the Department of Labor announced that 2,000 more Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, the total number claiming unemployment benefits has remained below 440,000 for more than a month. That's causing cautious optimism from economists and helped send stock prices sharply higher on Thursday morning.
"These are encouraging trends," said Paul Forster, chief executive of Indeed.com in an interview Thursday. "We are seeing more seasonal jobs this year than last and we are seeing more job postings overall. Of the 12 industries that we track, eight of them are up more than 50%."
The weakest industry for job posting growth is health care, Forster added. And that's just because it didn't fall as much during the recession as hard-hit industries, such as real estate and retail. And even health care job postings are up 16% from year-ago levels. Forster acknowledges that there's a long way to go before job growth starts to push unemployment rates back into the 4% and 5% levels that economists consider ideal. Still, the trends look good.
"We have been consistently optimistic throughout this year," he said. "We have such huge unemployment numbers to work through at the same time as you have growth in the labor force, but we've seen a steady turnaround in postings. The trend is very positive compared with where it was."
That said, your chance of getting seasonal work -- much like job prospects overall -- varies markedly with the city in which you live. The best city to find a seasonal job is New York, where some 5,831 jobs are posted, according to Indeed.com. That's about 10 times more job postings than you'd find in Jacksonville, Fla., which scraped the bottom of Indeed's 30-city survey with just 550 seasonal job postings.
Where are the best and worst cities to find seasonal work? Here are the top and bottom among the 30 surveyed and the number of jobs postings in each city, according to Indeed.
5 best cities to find seasonal work:
1. New York: 5,831 jobs
2. Washington, D.C.: 4,681 jobs
3. Houston, Tx.: 4,276 jobs
4. Los Angeles: 4,090 jobs
5. Chicago: 3,448 jobs
5 worst cities to find seasonal work:
30. Jacksonville, Fla.: 529 jobs
29. Memphis, Tn.: 681 jobs
28. Austin, Tx.: 841 jobs
27. San Antonio, Tx.: 921 jobs
26. Louisville, Ky.: 1,088 jobs