Big Holiday Hiring Plans for U.S. Retailers

Morning Business Memo:

Want a job for the last couple of months of this year? Retailers are revving up for the holiday shopping season. The industry hired 600,000 temporary workers last year. Toys R Us is the latest big chain to announce its plans for 2012. The No. 1 toy retailer is adding about 45,000 temporary workers to staff pop-up stores and make sure all the toys are on the shelves in time to meet demand. Toys R Us announced a 13 percent jump in the number of seasonal workers. "With substantial growth opportunities available, these seasonal jobs have the potential to become full-time positions for high-performing employees," according to a statement from the retailer. "Last year, approximately 15 percent of the holiday workforce retained positions with Toys R Us after the season ended."

Trick or Treat? A retail industry survey says more than two-thirds of Americans will spend a total of $8 billion on Halloween costumes, candy and decorations. The National Retail Federation's BIGinsight survey finds the average person will spend $79.82, up from $72.31 last year. Among people celebrating Halloween this year, says the survey, more than half will decorate their home or yard.

The Chinese factory owned by the manufacturer of Apple's iPhones is back in production. A brawl involving about 2,000 workers prompted a one-day shutdown. Foxconn Technology Group won't say whether the suspension would affect supplies of the new iPhone 5. More evidence of improvement for the housing industry might come this morning. The Case-Shiller home price index of 20 major metropolitan areas will be released, and it's expected to show a rise. Homebuilder optimism is at its highest point this year. Share prices of several big firms are soaring. KB Home shares have more than doubled this year.

At last! Some price relief at the pumps. Gas prices are falling. New numbers from the U.S. Energy Department show Americans are paying 5 cents less, compared with a week ago. The average for regular is $3.83 a gallon. Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service says, "I suspect you'll see this slow bleed lower for most of the next six to seven weeks."

The world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment is lowering expectations for profits in 2015. Caterpillar expects slower-than-expected growth in the global economy. Caterpillar's warning followed FedEx in sounding alarms about the slowdown in Asia and Europe.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio

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