Part-time panic

Summer is only a few months away, and students looking for part-time summer work might have some trouble. As a dwindling economy forces more stores to close, the market for part-time jobs is shrinking.

Over the past year, retail stores across the country have been closing. Retail trade employment fell by 45,000 in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Retail giant Linens-N-Things closed its doors in December and Tampa’s Circuit City locations are set to close at the end of the month. Circuit City will close 567 stores across the country, leaving approximately 30,000 jobless.

Former Circuit City employee Adam Page said he took necessary precautions to ensure he would have a job after the company closed.

“I knew it was going to happen by about October,” Page said. “So I went and got another job.”

Failing companies like Circuit City are raising the unemployment rate and impacting the part-time job market.

“People can’t go to other employers because those companies are either laying off current employees or just not hiring,” said Don Bellante, professor of economics.

In the past year, the number of involuntary part-time workers rose by 3.1 million, according to the BLS. Included in this number are people who would like to be working
full-time but have had their hours cut back or cannot find a full-time job.

The economy has had a drastic effect on part-time jobs on campus. The Career Center has seen a 44 percent decline in the number of jobs posted, said Mike Tooke, assistant director of the Career Center.

This time last year, there were about 45,000 jobs listed; now there are 25,000. There is less opportunity and greater competition, Tooke said.

The economic slump has trickled through the major sectors in America. The recession started with the decline in the housing sector, which then caused the collapse of the banking sector, Bellante said. Money is tight in a recession, so people shop less — thus the decline in the retail sector.

Some companies are closing a few store locations to stay afloat. At the University Mall, Starbucks, The Disney Store and Build-A-Bear recently closed.

Bellante doesn’t expect any more chain stores to go under, but he does think a number of mom-and-pop establishments will close.

“They are the most vulnerable in today’s economy,” he said.

Though things are bad right now, Bellante is sure they will recover.

“It always gets better. There will be tough times, but we’ll pull through,” he said.

For now, Tooke said he advises students to take their job search seriously and be proactive.

“There are still jobs out there,” he said. “You just have to work harder to find them.”