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by Melissa Burden

Genesee County, Michigan — If you’re looking to earn a little holiday cash with a seasonal job, you’ve got a lot of company this year.

With tens of thousands of people unemployed in the area and others working part-time jobs because they can’t find a full-time gig, expect some fierce competition for those cashier and stocking positions at your favorite retailer.

And with many retailers expected to hire fewer workers this year, employment experts say you’d better apply early and to multiple places.

“They do need to be persistent and really work at reaching out to people, constantly and in person,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Chicago-based outplacement assistance firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., who encouraged job seekers not to give up on the hunt.

And while it will be a difficult job market, Challenger, Gray & Christmas expects retail hiring to be a tad better than last year when retailers in October through December added 384,300 jobs, the lowest number since 1989.

“I think we’ve started to dig out of that hole,” Challenger said. “The economy has a long way to go, but I I don’t think it’s going to be as bad this year.”

But you might have to search wider than in past years and in areas such as customer service or with caterers and with shipping companies to find employment this holiday season, Challenger said. And you might end up not landing that job until later into the holiday shopping season as retailers wait for consumers show up at stores, he said.

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