weather icon Partly Cloudy

As holidays near, retailers and call centers ramp up seasonal hiring

Updated October 18, 2018 - 5:37 pm

Fourteen years ago, Maria Williams sat on the other side of the interview table.

She started as a seasonal worker at J.C. Penney’s Henderson location, training on a cash register replica and helping with the crowds.

This year marks the first time Williams, now an operations supervisor for the department store chain, gets to interview candidates and decide who to hire.

“This brings back memories,” she said Tuesday during a six-hour job fair at the Henderson store.

Another year, another round of seasonal hiring for retailers and other businesses in the Las Vegas area.

With J.C. Penney, several national retailers and local call centers are looking for workers to help with the holiday rush. Experts forecast a slight uptick in holiday hiring this year, both locally and nationally.

Tight labor market

The Retail Association of Nevada predicts 7,000 workers will get hired between October and December. Those jobs include in-store work, logistics and warehousing.

That would represent a slight increase from last year, when the holiday season brought 6,400 more jobs to the state.

Nationwide, experts expect between 585,000 and 650,000 seasonal workers to be hired, according to the National Retail Federation. Last year, 582,500 seasonal workers found employment.

Record-low unemployment spurred retailers to start seasonal hiring campaigns earlier this year to break through the tight labor market, according to the retail association.

The state’s unemployment rate was reported at 4.5 percent in September, while the national unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent.

To attract workers, retailers have advertised employee discounts, competitive wages and other incentives. J.C. Penney hopes to woo 200 local workers for the holiday season this year through a 25 percent employee discount on items and a drawing for eight employees to win a $5,000 trip.

“This trend has been apparent in Nevada’s retail industry, where average weekly wages climbed 7.7 percent year over year in August 2018,” according to the RAN statement. “That growth rate outpaced the statewide average of 5.1 percent and was the second-highest annual increase since 2014.”

Recession bust

In Nevada, hiring between September and December hovered around 10,000 jobs in the years before the Great Recession, according to a report by the state Department of Employment, Training &Rehabilitation.

Hiring bottomed out in 2008, with about 1,000 jobs cut that year. The number of seasonal jobs increased from there, reaching 11,500 jobs in 2014 but have since been declining.

Transportation and warehousing jobs saw the typical staff gains. But retail trade added half as many jobs, a sign of structural changes in the industry and the expansion of online shopping, according to the report.

“The big question is to what extent the structural changes noted previously will continue to impact seasonal retail hiring,” according to the report.

J.C. Penney’s 200 open jobs locally are part of 39,000 it hopes to hire nationwide. The numbers are down from last year because the store hired more people during the year, company spokesman Joey Thomas said.

Some other retailers hiring locally include:

— Gap, which also operates Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta, will hire 35 local workers and offer 50 percent off to employees at select stores.

— Target wants 1,300 local employees, starting them at $12 an hour. The employees will receive a 20 percent discount on select items.

— Online retail giant Amazon, which opened a distribution center in North Las Vegas in August 2017, wants 500 local employees. All employees would receive at least $15 an hour.

Call center bump

The local call center industry is also adding to its seasonal staff count.

Alorica will hire 415 people locally for the season, an increase over last year thanks to a newly opened second site.

Sitel said it wants 486 local employees for seasonal and full-time jobs. Last year, the company hired 259 seasonal workers, a spokeswoman said.

At Tuesday’s job fair, Williams, the J.C. Penney supervisor, interviewed a high-schooler looking for her first job, a former Walmart customer service manager and a retired school janitor, among others. She said she wanted to see people with energy and interest in the job.

“We need a lot of help this time of year,” she said.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at 702-383-4602 or wmillward@reviewjournal.com. Follow @wademillward on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada’s real estate industry blamed wrong enemy when bubble burst

State lawmakers approved a bill in 2015 — a decade after Las Vegas’ wild building spree — that raised barriers to pursuing lawsuits alleging shoddyconstruction. A measure now working its way through the Democratic-controlled Legislature would wipe out or change provisions of that law.

CEOs get $800K pay raise, leaving workers further behind

Pay for CEOs at S&P 500 companies rose to a median of $12 million last year, including salary, stock and other compensation, according to data analyzed by Equilar.