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Dog walking, driving and retail: How holiday jobs have changed

SEATTLE — As the holidays approach, many people are looking for extra work. According to Worksource Washington, there remains plenty of openings for holiday retail work. But more people are turning to becoming independent contractors to make extra holiday cash.

Inside Seattle-based Rover.com, it’s a busy place. The company employs about 300 employees, who have their dogs sitting or playing with them nearby. But for this six-year-old company, right now it’s a busy place outside the office also. The company says they are looking to fill a big need for pet sitters and pet walkers during the holidays.

And they say there is a big need for holiday season pet sitters and pet walkers right now.

“We see probably double the demand for sitters in our marketplace in November and December, ” said Megan Teepe, vice president of operations for Rover.com.

What makes companies like rover.com appealing to some is that people can set their own hours and rates, allowing people to make extra cash when, and how they want. According to Rover.com, people can sometimes make $1,000 or more.

"In the Seattle marketplace, the rates can vary differently, dependent on where you live and what type of service you're offering,” said Teepe. “But you also have the ability to set holiday rates so you can actually set your rates at peak season.”

Years ago, this may have just been called temporary or part-time work.

But with Rover.com, Uber, and Lyft for example, the new side hustle this holiday season is all about what's called the gig economy, or people who work as independent contractors.

"It's kind of a self-employment model that is certainly something that is growing,” said Dot Fallihee, interim CEO of the Workforce Development Council.

Also growing, according to Worksource, is the amount of traditional retail jobs for the holidays in our region.

“The Employment Securities Department is actually projecting an 8,033 job increase for the Seattle, Bellevue, Everett statistical area,” said Bryan Pannell of Worksource.

That’s an increase of about 560 jobs over last year's numbers, said Pannell.

“It's really a reflection of how really robust our economy is and how it's growing,” he said.

But whether it's behind a retail counter or walking a dog, the options for people to earn money this holiday season continues to grow, especially "where it fits really nicely into your lifestyle as well as somebody who wants to do this as a semi-full time or full-time gig,” said Teepe.

Officials project a 2.8 % increase of holiday jobs from 2017 into the early part of next year.