This year’s seasonal employment is expected to exceed 600,000 for the first time since 2007, according to outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.

The firm notes that many retailers are increasing holiday hiring. Kohl’s Corp., Macy’s Inc., Toys R Us, Pier 1 Imports Inc., American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and others plan to hire more temporary holiday workers.

Amazon will hire more than 15,500 people to fill temporary holiday jobs at shipping centers around the nation.  The company plans to hire 5,000 people in Arizona, another 4,000 across Pennsylvania, and more than 2,500 in Indiana.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas Department of Labor analysts said the holiday hiring season is off to its strongest start since 2006, with a net gain of 150,900 in retail payrolls. In October 2009, just 47,600 retail jobs were added, and in October 2008, retailers added only 38,600 seasonal workers.

CEO John A. Challenger said the increase is a good sign that retailers are more optimistic this year.

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