Tis the season for seasonal jobs

Article Published: Oct. 13, 2011 | Modified: Oct. 13, 2011

As the air chills and the leaves turn, seasonal jobs ads start appearing in the newspaper classified ads.

It’s a time honored High Country economy tradition, Watauga County Employment Security Commission’s Anita Lowe said. “We have tons of seasonal,” she said.

Job experts hope those positions impact the 10.4 percent North Carolina unemployment rate.

“Normally, the end of October is when we start getting those positions posted,” Lowe said.

Last year, her office saw more than a hundred listings from around 30 employers.

Jobs that used to be college-student-heavy still are, but an increasing minority has been making inquiries: The unemployed, just trying to find something to get by.

Appalachian Ski Mountain marketing director Drew Stanley is already seeing people looking for jobs with the resort. He knew of about 350 seasonal part-time positions at Appalachian Ski and said they are filling quickly.

“We’ve had a steady stream of people coming in since early September,” he said. “I actually couldn’t tell you how many are available at present.”

The majority of inquiries come from Appalachian State University students, but community members do trickle in, he said. Jobs offered vary, from gift shop and rental equipment jobs to lift running. He hopes to have a full roster by the time the resort opens in mid November.

Holly Green at Sugar Mountain Ski resort said Sugar Mountain hired about 500 seasonal employees last year, including transients. The number of employees, like the quality of a run, is dependent on the weather.

“We are currently taking applications,” she said.

A job fair (Oct. 29 from 10 to 12 p.m. at the resort) will result in most of the hires.

“Then, once it starts getting cold and the snow starts flying, we start bringing people in,” she said.

And, like their Blowing Rock neighbors at Appalachian Ski, it’s an eclectic mix. Employees include summer seasonal workers, people who were employed at places like river outfitters and Tweetsie Railroad. Starting pay is typically minimum wage ($7.25).

Sugar Mountain hopes to open by Thanksgiving, according to its website.

Seasonal employment can also be found at Beech Mountain Ski Resort and Hawksnest Snowtubing.
Some positions can lead to fulltime work year-round.

“Seasonal positions are a good way for individuals to be able to get their foot in with different companies,” Lowe said.

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