WILKES-BARRE TWP. – A slow-but-steady train of job seekers took turns stooping over tables at the Wyoming Valley Mall on Saturday, filling out applications for temporary jobs during the holiday season.
The mall hosted the holiday job fair to help retailers in the mall find seasonal help to work during the Christmas shopping season. Eleven stores had set up kiosks in the mall's central court Saturday afternoon.
The retailers are certainly looking to fill a lot of positions, and it's also a good opportunity for people who work in the mall to meet each other and share talent, said John Kasper, an assistant manager for American Eagle Outfitters working a table at the job fair.
The response has been pretty positive, he added. There's a lot of different people in the area that need jobs, and I think people are really happy just to be filling out applications.
That was the case for some job seekers who said they have been unemployed for extended periods of time.
Joan Sheraski, a retiree from Plains Township, said she has been looking for a part-time job to supplement her retirement income for more than a year without success. She said she is seeking a permanent job, but a seasonal position is better than nothing.
I'm on Social Security and that doesn't take you very far, and you need something to help you get by, she said.
You just go on and on and just can't seem to get anyplace, added Sheraski's daughter, Susan Hall. There's so many people looking for the same job.
Jeff Andrzejewski, 24, of Wilkes-Barre Township, said he is looking for a job to help pay his tuition at Luzerne County Community College, where he is studying broadcast communications.
I don't get any financial aid, and my bill for the next semester is $1,600, so I'm trying to save some money for that, Andrzejewski said.
He said he has been looking for work since he was laid off from a part-time job at a factory last November.
I've been looking since then, and haven't gotten many calls back, he said. There's so many people; the economy's bad.
Store representatives said they were mostly hiring part-time workers to provide extra help through the first week in January, though some long-term positions could also open up for seasonal hires.
Ruthanne Piccola, manager of Kay Jewelers, said she already hired two seasonal workers this week after they applied for jobs online, and hopes to hire six more.
I'm hiring seasonal, part-time; it could turn into full-time, she said.
Matt Camella, store manager of Schuylkill Valley Sports, said the team apparel shop is looking to hire four or five extra employees this season; the first time it has hired seasonal help in its three years at the mall. While that's partly because the store is understaffed right now, Camella said the store is also expecting holiday sales to improve this year over last.
Forecasts indicate it's supposed to be better, and we think it will be, Camella said.