Need a job? These stores are hiring for the holidays

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(CNN) — A Christmas gift is coming early this year for many unemployed Americans: Retailers are hiring for the holidays.

More seasonal jobs will be available this year than in any season in the past five years, according to a new survey by Snagajob, the nation’s largest hourly employment network. Finally, some good news for struggling Americans who are looking for a little relief before the holiday season gets underway. Three-fourths of retailers expect a boost in holiday sales this year, which in turn means they’ll need more help from job seekers.

About 57% of retailers plan to hire around the same number of workers as 2011, but 36% say they plan to hire even more, according to a recent survey released by Hay Group, a management consulting firm. Snagajob surveyed hiring managers responsible for hiring year-end seasonal workers and found that 63% of them will be hiring this year, which is the largest portion of the group in five years.

“Retailers are betting that 2012 is going to be a great holiday season,” said Craig Rowley, vice president and global practice leader for Hay Group’s retail practice, in a press release. “After four years of economic turbulence, they have figured out how to operate in an uncertain business environment and are calm and cool, knowing that they are ready as they head into the holidays.”

The holiday season officially kicks off on Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — and it’s a crucial time for all retailers. And even though the official season begins in late November, Snagajob found that the hiring process is starting earlier than ever this year. Many hiring managers expect to complete their hiring by the end of October, if not sooner. So if you’re looking for work, keep an eye out!

And this year’s seasonal hiring could lead to long-term employment. Almost half of companies surveyed said they want to focus not just on hiring seasonal workers, but permanent employees as well.

Kohl’s, one of the largest department stores chains in the country, said it will hire more than 52,700 holiday workers for the 2012 holiday season. The company expects to hire an average of 41 temporary employees for each of its more than 1,100 stores around the nation. The increasing popularity of online shopping will also affect Kohl’s hiring plans, along with most other large U.S. retailers. On top of the 52,700 store employees, Kohl’s plans to hire an additional 5,700 seasonal workers at its distribution centers. The company said it will also fill 30 temporary credit operations positions.

Target also has big plans for hiring seasonal workers. The company expects to hire between 80,000 and 90,000 seasonal employees, which is a drop from the 92,000 it hired last year, but it’s still a lot of paychecks for unemployed and underemployed Americans.

Target didn’t specify why it’s hiring fewer workers this year, but it did acknowledge the increase in online spending. Many retailers’ hiring plans could reflect the shift to online shopping as it becomes a larger portion of total sales. Online sales are expected to reach about 10% of total sales this holiday season, up from more than 8% last year, according to ComScore.

Wal-Mart also announced it will offer additional hours to current associates and hire more than 50,000 seasonal associates for this year’s holiday shopping season.

“This is our busiest time of the year and we are focused even more on providing excellent service to our shoppers throughout the holiday season,” said Gisel Ruiz, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, in a company statement. “One way we do that is by ensuring our stores are adequately staffed by our associates.”

Other major retailers and companies are also expected to announce holiday hiring plans. Toys R Us, Macy’s, Best Buy, Fed Ex and UPS are among those companies that typically hire more workers ahead of the holiday season.