With unemployment hovering around 8 percent, you'd think unemployed workers would be champing at the bit to take a job -- any job. But shipping companies such as UPS Inc. and GSI Commerce Inc. can't find enough workers to staff warehouses in Louisville, Ky., a region with a 7.5 percent jobless rate.
According to the local Courier-Journal newspaper, UPS still had 200 openings paying $8.50 an hour on four shifts this week, three months after it announced plans to hire 1,000 temporary workers. To help recruiting efforts, the Atlanta-based parcel-delivery company has offered employees $150 bonuses for referring new hires, who also get the bonus.
Meanwhile, GSI Commerce, an eBay Inc. subsidiary, needs 300 people in the Louisville area, offering applicants wages of $9.25 to $10 an hour plus bonuses tied to attendance and performance. Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. is also hiring in the region, offering a starting wage of $12 an hour for positions in packing and shipping, among others.
So why are the jobs going unfilled? In part, the shortage is caused by the large number of shipping companies in the area -- dozens of which have been attracted by the UPS Worldport sorting hub at the Louisville International Airport.
"We have attracted so many companies to come to the area and bring jobs here that they are competing for some of the same workers that we would like to have out in our hub," UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot told the newspaper.
Another hurdle in attracting staff is the temporary nature of the work. Many workers prefer full-time jobs -- in part because they often provide benefits and a greater degree of job security. Also, those who are currently receiving unemployment benefits risk losing that income should they take what, for most, is a short-term job.
But workers eager for full-time jobs may be too hasty in turning their noses up at part-time seasonal work, since some of those jobs turn into year-round employment. A recent survey of employers by CareerBuilder showed that 39 percent of those hiring seasonal help plan to transition some employees into full-time, permanent staff -- up from 30 percent last year.
"A seasonal job is like an audition," Terry Foy, a human-resources vice president for Macy's Inc., told The Wall Street Journal in a 2009 interview. Temporary work gives workers an ideal scenario in which to showcase their skills and work ethic. And it also provides opportunity to network within a company and find out which departments are hiring and who the hiring managers are. (Here are more tips on how to turn a seasonal job into a permanent one.)
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