Online retailers increase hires of seasonal workers for holidays

TRENTON -- It's become a Thanksgiving tradition -- most major retailers will be open on Thanksgiving tomorrow so Americans can start their holiday shopping.

Many of those stores, such as Amazon which has a facility near Trenton, New Jersey, are open online; the facility is what the on-line retailers call a "fulfillment center," and the holiday rush is already in full swing.

Three shifts a day, seven days a week -- the conveyer belts are filled with packages heading to customers. In order to keep up, Amazon has hired 100,000 extra seasonal workers.

One of those is 20-year-old Zahmir Ibezim, a college student looking to save up money before he heads back to school in January. Ibezim said he's "going to use it to pay back" student loans.

Amazon's hiring is a 25 percent increase from last year. But they are the exception.

Overall -- holiday hiring is expected to be only slightly higher than last season. FedEx is adding 55,000 workers, roughly 5 percent more than 2014. Major retailers like Macy's and Target will add the same amount of workers as last year.

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JeanetteWashburn, a mother of six, is working in the Amazon warehouse for the firsttime. Amazon hired 100,000 extra seasonal workers this year
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"It's not a bad sign. We don't expect holiday spending to decrease, we are just seeing the jobs hiring happen in different places and in smaller amounts," said Andrew Challenger, vice president of the employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"Normal retailers, brick and mortar stores, don't need as many sales people and cashiers as they have in the past. And where we are seeing the bulk of hiring is in warehouses and shipping and logistics," said Challenger.

Jeanette Washburn, a mother of six, is working in the Amazon warehouse for the first time. She said it is good to have some extra cash "to do something that is just a little out of the ordinary for the household, definitely."

Thousands of jobs like Washburn's turned into full time jobs last year, after the holiday season was over.

She said that if full time work was offered to her, she "would consider it." But she'll definitely be back next season.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.