The holiday shopping season may not quite be here yet, but the holiday hiring season definitely is.  Retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Macy's and Amazon have already begun hiring seasonal help, which typically is a boost for job-seekers.  However, because of the stagnant national economy and relative high rates of unemployment and underemployment, job forecasters like Challenger, Gray and Christmas expect this year's holiday hiring to be down from last year.  Nevertheless, most retailers are still expecting solid sales numbers this year, according to Ronnie Volkening, President of the Texas Retailers Association.  "(Retailers) often get anywhere from 25% to more than 30% of their total annual sales just in that holiday period," he tells KTRH.  "And so they want to be adequately staffed to take advantage of the holiday shopping season."

Volkening says there are two big factors that could put a damper on this year's Christmas hiring surge.  "Number one, you've got some questions about consumer confidence given some of the federal budgetary debates that are going on."  In addition, he explains why Texas businesses may not need as many temps this year.  "Some of our retail members changed some of their hiring habits earlier in the year, so they will be granting longer hours to some of their existing full-time employees, rather than hiring seasonal help," he says.  So far, most major retailers have said they plan to hire about the same amount of seasonal help as last year.

Despite the subdued national projections, there is still reason for optimism here in the Lone Star State because of our strong economy.  "It is good news that Texas has traditionally been outperforming the rest of the country in terms of the state of our economy and consumer confidence," says Volkening.  If you haven't already started looking for a seasonal job, now is the time to get on it.  "People looking for a seasonal help job in the Houston area should not be discouraged," says Volkening.  "Get out there, look for it, apply, and hopefully there will be a good demand for seasonal help."