High unemployment rate makes tough holiday season for some

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - With state unemployment rates the highest in 25 years, it may be a tough holiday season for many Alabamians.

Alabama's unemployment rate is currently at 10.9%, but people who are looking to find work hope to take advantage of stores hiring extra holiday help.

UAB economist Mickey Gee said the bad news is temporary hiring for the holidays will be less than last year.

"It will be very competitive, as we have larger unemployment numbers. The employers have a better pool of applicants to work from," said Gee, "It's not going to be an easy task."

Gee said retailers are being conservative because they are trying to watch costs.

"The key to this Christmas season is value retailing," said Gee, "With labor being a big cost, they are trying to control those costs closely so they can give value to their customer."

Staff members at the Birmingham Career Center said they have been staying busy helping people find jobs. They worry people are becoming more desperate as the holidays approach.

"The end of last year during the Christmas season I was working," said Birmingham resident Debra Clark, "So this year is going to be a lot different.  There won't be too much Christmas shopping done."

Gee said sales projections at electronics and toy stores may be better than others, so those stores have the best chance of hiring seasonal employees.