Some rays of light in the dim U.S. jobs picture are coming from well-known large companies.
According to Indeed.com, a six-year-old website that aggregates job postings from all over, there are tens of thousands of jobs listed right now at America's biggest businesses and government agencies, including Blockbuster, Lowe's, Bank of America and Lockheed Martin.
The picture offered by Indeed is not a precise one reflecting a number of actual jobs. Online listings often remain up after positions have been filled, and a company like Blockbuster lists jobs whether or not it has openings, because it knows there's a constant churn of workers at its 3,000 retail stores across the country, so it's eager to attract a steady stream of applicants.
Nevertheless, these numbers do offer a strong broad gauge of which companies are expanding and taking on the most new workers right now.
Indeed.com culls listings from a plethora of job websites large and small, including the behemoths CareerBuilder and Monster, from online newspapers and classified ads and from companies' own sites. Indeed.com's users can slice and dice the listings in myriad ways, including by geographic area, profession, company name, salary range, part- or full-time job and permanent or temporary work.
The company that ranks No. 1 on Indeed's big company list may surprise some, because Blockbuster has struggled lately with its financial health in the face of fierce competition from challengers like Netflix.
But spokeswoman Michelle Metzger says the Dallas operator of video rental stores is in the midst of "transforming to a multi-channel company," and is still in hiring mode. However, another Blockbuster source concedes that many of the listings result from the ever-present need to staff the company's 3,000 stores. Only 21 of the 12,800 postings are for corporate jobs, as opposed to retail positions.
Likewise, many of the listings at the No. 2 company, Lowe's, stem from the Mooreseville, N.C., home improvement company's nationwide retail reach, and a good deal of the job listings are for seasonal work. "Spring is like our Christmas," says Katie Cody, a spokeswoman.
At the No. 4 company, Petco, many of the jobs are at retail outlets, but the robust hiring picture at the San Diego pet supplier reflects Americans' love of their pets, even during recessionary times.
"We are continuing to grow and hire," reports the company's head of human resources, Charlie Piscitello. "We're happy to report at Petco that the human-animal bond is alive and well. People increasingly treat their pets as family members."