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Retailers may need extra holiday help

Lawton_The holiday season will be here before you know it, and retailers in town will be scrambling for extra help to manage all of the extra shoppers in their stores.  Will they be able to find the help they need? 

About six weeks remain until Black Friday, and ten weeks until Christmas, and word on the street is that Lawton's economy looks strong.  Unemployment here stands at 3.6% even though national numbers paint a very different picture.  According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate in the United States stands at 6.1% as of September.

Seasonal employers in Lawton will need to boost their employee numbers to handle holiday stress, although Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) could balance things out in the future by bringing more residents to Lawton who are job hunting.  Vicki Eckhart is looking for work in Lawton, but says she would like to continue employment in her area of expertise.  "I would love to get on at Cameron University because I have big university background in administration," she said.  "I have a lot of interest in education."

After a few bouts with agencies, Vicki says she's trying the unemployment office.  "This is a bit more bureaucratic," she said.  "I'm hoping that they can match me with someone that's out there looking for someone with my skills." 

Unlike Vicki, many job hunters are looking for employment that will offer them a buffer to tide them over until the holidays - a little extra cushion for Christmastime.  It's difficult for retailers to gauge exactly what sort of staff they will need for the holiday shopping season, however, the economy in Lawton is showing that residents have more spendable income than the rest of the country may have. 

Unemployment Office Manager Charles Sutterfield says that between 100-150 people come through his offices each day.  "We're essentially at full employment," he said.

"Normally anything below 5% is considered full employment because they figure 5% of the people are always moving from one job to another." 

Lawton Chamber of Commerce President Dana Davis says he expects Lawton to grow even more than current predictions.  "If you saw the study that came out in the last couple of weeks, it actually shows Lawton growing by 23 to 27-thousand people between now and 2020." 

Vicki is an early bird who flew into Lawton before the big boom has arrived, but still has been working hard to find employment.  "I've been looking through the paper of course - very diligently - and Sunday papers are the best," she said.  "I've also been looking online, and just word of mouth from other people who have done different positions here - different jobs."

Sutterfield says he attributes Lawton's growth to two factors - Fort Sill and Goodyear.  He says Goodyear keeps the money flowing in Lawton's economy, and keeps things running smoothly.  Because of BRAC, Lawton is expecting thousands of new residents - the Chamber of Commerce expects a 20% spike in growth over the next 10 years.

If you are looking for a job, be sure to check out www.greattexomajobs.com

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