Snag a job, or at least an hourly wage

part time jobWith the average weekly work hours and earnings dropping for American workers, it's no surprise that people are looking for part-time jobs to fill the gaps.

One popular Web site that such job seekers go to is SnagAJob.com, which bills itself as the top source for hourly and part-time jobs.The good news is that SnagAJob, and other sites that help people find such jobs, have plenty of hourly work to apply for. There are all kinds of retail jobs available, and it looks like just about every Target store in America is hiring cashiers.

But the problem with these jobs is that they don't pay well. The mean hourly wage for cashiers is $8.49, and for retail salespeople it's $9.86 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

Although a dim holiday hiring outlook is forecast, there are also plenty of seasonal jobs available as the Christmas shopping season approaches, leading more people to find temporary, hourly work for a few months. The seasonal jobs that SnagAJob advertises pay, on average, $10.40 per hour, up 40 cents from last year, a SnagAJob spokeswoman told me. But that increase may be due more to the federal minimum wage increasing by 70 cents in July than generous employers.

With retailers waiting a little longer this year to hire seasonal workers because of fears that consumers will spend less money this holiday season, finding a seasonal job may be more difficult. SnagAJob can make that search a lot easier by bringing the jobs to you instead of having to go out and beat the street for job applications.

The average hourly pay on SnagAJob is $10 to $12 an hour, the spokeswoman told me. Many employers on the site don't openly list their hourly pay, and list their pay as "competitive" or "varies" because wages vary in different locations by experience level.

Obviously these aren't the kind of jobs that result in buying a home and supporting a family. But in a recession, any job will often do -- even a part-time job.

Students are the top users of SnagAJob, which isn't surprising. But what surprised me among the stats provided by SnagAJob was that students are followed by career hourly workers as the second highest category of users. I don't know if that's a result of the recession or has been that way for years, but a high number of hourly workers who earn a few dollars more on average than minimum wage can't be good for the economy.

Snagging an hourly job is great if there's nothing else available, but it's unlikely to lead to earning a livable wage.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area who can be found at www.AaronCrowe.net

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