Holiday hiring to provide needed jobs

By Billy Corriher

Sonya Miller has one thing on her holiday wish list n a job.

Miller has been looking for a job since July 2001 and has been working temporary jobs to make ends meet. Miller is looking for a job in accounting, but she hopes the holiday shopping season might yield a seasonal job in retail.

"I need the money, even if it's just temporary," she said. "But I'd much rather have something permanent."

Miller is one of almost 9,000 people in Clayton County who are unemployed.

The Georgia Department of Labor estimates that, as of September, 6.2 percent of the county's workforce is still looking for a job, much higher than the state average of 4.6 percent.

Riverdale resident Patrice Woodard has been looking for a job since she quit her last one two months ago. Woodard wants to work in a medical office, but would consider a retail job for the holidays.

"I'll take anything I can get right now," she said. "I'm worried about paying my rent."

Janice Moore, manager of the Clayton County Department of Labor office, said her office is steering job seekers toward temporary jobs.

"We are actively recruiting for seasonal jobs in retail and distribution right now," she said.

The holiday jobs, though temporary, may help area residents who are still feeling the effects of a bad economy. In the past three years, Clayton County has seen about 1,000 jobs created between October and December, said Department of Labor spokesman John Lawrence.

Manager Erin Bauman of KB Toys in Southlake Mall said her store recently held a job fair that drew 150 people, far more than the store needed.

Bauman said that recent job fairs have drawn more older applicants, not just the usual crowd of students looking for holiday work.

Manager Bill Kendrick of JC Penney, also in the mall, said his store has hired 25 additional people to help with the hordes of shoppers anticipated this year. But Kendrick said he had fewer applicants than previous years, which could be a sign that the local economy is recovering.

Although the economy may be getting better, many local people still need jobs, and Lawrence said the holiday season will definitely help out.

"This time of year always gives the economy a boost, even if it's just in the short run."