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Quick Hits: No Holiday Shoppers, No Holiday Jobs

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Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

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Thousands of people are seeking part-time work during the holiday season, just as retail sales are slumping and stores are cutting back on hiring.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago outplacement firm, confirms what everyone's gut says: Holiday hiring will be significantly lower this year than last – and 2007 was the worst since 2003.

But for job seekers, the cause isn't as important as the result: Fewer part-time jobs this holiday season.

Overall, the retail sector lost about 38,100 jobs in October, boosting the total to about 297,000 lost since January.

The search for temporary employment during the holiday season plays out against another 240,000 jobs in all sectors cut in October, pushing the nation's unemployment rate to a 14-year high of 6.5%.

But of course people keep looking for work. Some regional chain stores report receiving hundreds of applications for a handful of seasonal jobs. Even delivery companies are cutting back this year.

The paucity of holiday jobs in the retail sector is a footnote to the increasingly sour economy, but it underscores the basic reasons holiday sales will be down this year: Unemployment is high and many of those with jobs feel insecure. As a result, people are cutting back and sitting on their cash. That quickly translates into fewer ringing cash registers this holiday season.
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