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Who's hiring the most this holiday season

Big seasonal employers won't be hiring as many people this year but some of them are looking to take on thousands of workers. Find out what big companies are looking for help.
/ Source: Forbes

Retailers and other big seasonal employers won't be hiring as many people this year as they did in the last years before the recession began, but some of them are looking to take on thousands of workers. We have compiled a list of the big companies that have the most job listings of all right now, with a focus on seasonal hiring, using data provided by, an online job posting aggregator. We define a "big company" as one with more than 2,500 employees.

We searched both employers' career sites and job boards, and we examined what we found to account for differences in seasonal recruiting strategies among the companies. Our list may not reflect an exact number of available positions, since there can be duplicate postings and listings can stay up after a job is filled, but the results offer a strong gauge of who is hiring the most this season.

Department stores dominate the list, taking five of the top 10 spots. Sears leads, with 12,352 postings right now. J.C. Penney and Macy's hold the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, with 12,189 and 9,090 listings, respectively.

Toys R Us is also looking to hire thousands of workers to help customers find the perfect gifts this season. Though it has only 5,354 unique listings right now, the toy retailer announced last month that it plans to double its domestic workforce this season by hiring about 45,000 holiday workers altogether.

Then there is another major moneymaker during the holiday season: shipping companies.

Since, unlike Santa Claus, shippers can't magically transport everything in an instant, they will need extra help for their busiest season. UPS has 6,051 job postings right now, and FedEx has 2,733, many of them seasonal. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm that tracks hiring and job-cut announcements, UPS plans to take on 50,000 seasonal workers in all.

"Most companies are cautious about over-hiring, but they are preparing for a better season," says Challenger, Gray & Christmas Chief Executive, John Challenger. "We are seeing much more optimism than we had seen in the past few years."

A CareerBuilder survey conducted among 2,457 hiring managers and human resource professionals in August and September showed that about 48% of hiring managers were expecting to pay their holiday workers $10 or more per hour. Nine percent expected to pay $16 or more; 32% planned to pay between $8 and $9 per hour; and 19% expected to pay between $6 and $7.

For some, a seasonal job may be a gift that keeps on giving. The survey revealed that about 40% of employers hiring holiday workers plan to transition some of them into full-time employees. That's up from 31% last year.