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Consumer Confidential: Recession is over, hiring may rise, Wal-Mart to expand

September 20, 2010 | 10:03 am

Here's your mysteriously Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Break out the party hats: The recession is officially over. In fact, it ended more than a year ago, in June 2009. That's the word from our friends at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a panel of economists based in Cambridge, Mass., who are charged with determining such lofty things. For the record, they say the recession started in December 2007 and lasted for the next year and a half, making it the longest downturn since World War II. I guess the only question is this: So why does it feel like the recession never ended?

--But maybe there's hope. A new study says retailers will be hiring more seasonal workers for the holidays, which is good news for anyone looking for a job and suggests that the economy is on the upswing. The consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas says seasonal hiring should rise, but probably not to pre-recession levels. It says the best bets for job seekers will likely be discounters such as Target and Wal-Mart.

--Speaking of Wal-Mart, the company is reportedly scouting for smaller locations in Los Angeles and elsewhere for a new breed of urban mini-stores (that is, mini for Wal-Mart) that will be more like neighborhood markets or convenience stores. The company is said to be looking at lots of potential sites across the country and is looking toward a major expansion of its franchise. This might be a good thing for price-conscious shoppers. For mom-and-pop neighborhood stores, not so much.

-- David Lazarus