"Economic growth is strong and getting stronger by the day. The consumer gets it, even if they aren't yet saying it," says Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York, as Reuters writes about the latest release of economic data this week. The news, combined with the the largest seasonal hiring since 1999, has U.S. economists feeling upbeat. How are you feeling as we head to the home stretch of 2014?

According to consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, holiday hiring has continued to improve annually since 2008, which was one of the worst holiday hiring years on record. Last year, for example, 786,200 workers were added for the 2013 holiday season, and 150,000 more than that are forecast for this season. 

“The last two years saw holiday hiring return to pre-recession levels," said John A. Challenger, CEO. "This year, we could see hiring return to levels not seen since the height of the dot com boom. Holiday spending will undoubtedly benefit from the fact that payrolls are increasing by an average of 215,000 new workers per month, so far this year. That translates into more people with jobs, which means more holiday spending money."

Staffing Talk contributor Scott Morefield, veteran staffing pro and Director of Marketing at @Work Personnel Services, says his company expects to finish the year strong and expand into 2015. 

"Sadly, this is probably due at least partially to the continued economic uncertainty brought on by the ACA. It certainly helps to have a plan to deal with it and to market that plan to our clients as a risk-management model."

Stories about the Affordable Care Act always attract the most Staffing Talk readers, and we will continue to cover the complex law through the end of this year and into 2015 obviously.

Now back to the broader business world. Here are some of the biggest seasonal hiring employers according to Fastweb, and the numbers they expect to add this season. 

UPS

Estimated seasonal hires: 90,000 - 95,000 (up from last year's original 55,000 seasonal additions, although after underestimating the delivery surge for the 2013 holiday shipping season, the company was forced to hire 30,000 additional seasonal workers)

Macy's

Estimated seasonal hires: 86,000 (this is an increase of over 1,000% from last year’s 7,000 hires with 10,000 of these workers based in one of the company’s eight distribution centers across the country).

Amazon

Estimated seasonal hires: 80,000 (14% increase from last year’s seasonal hiring plan)

Target

Estimated seasonal hires: 70,000 (matches last year’s seasonal hiring number)

Kohl's

Estimated seasonal hires: 67,000 (25% bump from last year)

Walmart

Estimated seasonal hires: 60,000 (10% increase from last year)

FedEx

Estimated seasonal hires: 50,000 (more than double 2013 levels)

Toys "R" Us

Estimated seasonal hires: 45,000 (up 20% from last year) 

JC Penney

Estimated seasonal hires: 35,000 (same as 2013 levels)

GameStop

Estimated seasonal hires: 25,000 (up from 17,000 last year)

Amidst the backdrop of the holidays, also came the recent change in immigration status for five million foreign-born people currently living in the U.S. That has added a wild card of sorts to the economic picture that experts say is too early to completely make sense of.

Some of the predictions are dire, while others are positive, according to this article in Fortune

One side is concerned that more immigrants entering the labor force will introduce competition, limit job availability for those already in the workforce or looking for work and/or depress wages in certain sectors. 

Others contend that putting more people to work legally will increase the tax base, put more money in people's pockets to spend, and create a positive impact on the overall economy. 

The timing appears to be good for TempWorks in terms of the company's recent announcement they are expanding across the pond. 

UK GDP grew 0.7% in Q3, which reflects 3.0% year-over-year growth, primarily due to an upward trend in the job markets. 

"The broader picture of the recovery is one of employment-led growth as spare capacity is absorbed," Bloomberg economists Jamie Murray and Niraj Shah wrote. "The Bank of England sees only limited scope for this type of growth before inflationary pressures begin to build — putting the margin of slack at about 1% of GDP. Productivity growth, the only sustainable way for living standards to improve in the long term, has been very limited in the UK for the past 5 years."

Are you finding reasons to be optimistic for the remainder of 2014 and the start of 2015? 

We hope you have lots to be thankful as we enter the holiday season in earnest. Happy Thanksgiving!