covid

NORTH METRO ATLANTA, Ga. — The coronavirus knocked the job market for a loop in 2020, but there are interesting signs that the workforce is getting back on its feet again.

At its worst, Georgia’s unemployment rate was at 12.6-percent in April. Numbers have improved, with unemployment in the state shrinking to 6.3-percent. In the North Fulton, Forsyth County and Dunwoody areas, the most recent unemployment data averages out to 2.9-percent.

Some of the industries hardest hit by the recession are also breathing a sigh of relief. While massive layoffs were seen in the dining and hospitality industries, some of those businesses are now eager to bring on more staff.

“We have had a few hotels open during this year,” said Laura Stewart, vice president of Community Engagement for the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. “Even though their construction and opening timelines were impacted by what was going on health-wise and safety-wise, now they’re opening and looking to add to their staff.”

Seasonal hiring also provides a good opportunity for those in need of some extra cash during the holidays. Stewart said seasonal hiring started early in 2020, especially in the restaurant and retail sectors.

“There were various timelines of when those entities were opening back up after shelter-in-place restrictions,” Stewart said. “The seasonal hiring scenario looks very different this year, but from our vantage point, there’s a positive spin to it. We do know that many of our members are looking to hire.”

Stewart said watching the unemployment rate skyrocket this year was alarming. To keep Forsyth County’s jobless rate low, the Chamber of Commerce is connecting job seekers with businesses looking to hire.

“Focusing on some of that displaced talent was a bit new for us this year, but it also worked well,” Stewart said. “Because when we had employers that had opportunities available, we served as the connection point between those two groups.”

Forsyth County job seekers can reach out to the Chamber for job opportunities. Visit their education and employment website: https://www.together4foco.com/employmenteducation.html

North Fulton has opportunities

Residents of North Fulton County can also find jobs via NorthFultonJobs.com

Jay Litton is the co-leader of the job networking program at Roswell United Methodist Church. He sees Q4 seasonal job openings in retail and package delivery. Litton is also surprised by the current strength of the job market.

“You’ll see major Fortune 500 companies lay a couple thousand people off, but then you’ll see them hiring people in different areas at that exact same company,” Litton said. “In some cases, companies overreacted to the COVID, and they’re trying to fill gaps. Job seekers need to be aware of that.”

Litton said the old rules still apply in this new normal — sharpen your resume and prepare for the interview. For decades, RUMC has provided free and valuable training to job seekers with a track record of getting many hired. Litton hopes to do the same at RUMC’s upcoming workshop and mini job fair.

“If they’re only submitting their resume and they’re only going online to apply for the job, they’re going to be very frustrated, because they’re not going to get phone calls back,” Litton said. “That’s where we come in and train job seekers about how to differentiate themselves.”

The next RUMC job networking workshop and mini job fair will be held online via Zoom on December 14. Workshops begin at 10 a.m. The mini job fair begins at 5 p.m. and is expected to feature about 20 employers and recruiters. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., participants can have a one-on-one resume review. To find out more, visit http://rumcjobnetworking.com/

Kai Shephard is a manager with Hire Dynamics, a staffing company with offices throughout the Southeast. To him, the problem isn’t where do job seekers find work. He said the challenge is getting people to take the jobs.

“It’s possible to get Georgia back down to the 3.1-percent pre-COVID unemployment,” Shephard said. “The jobs are available and it’s a competitive job market.”

Pay increases for some jobs

According to Shephard, of the 170 companies Hire Dynamics works with, many have gone through payrate increases, as much as $5 an hour on salaries ranging between $11 and $15 an hour. He sees several opportunities for employment in the industrial and manufacturing industries.

But, Shephard said, the challenge is finding people who are willing to risk working among several coworkers and clients amid the pandemic. It’s a challenge the retail, restaurant and hospitality industry are facing as well.

“Job seekers are optimistic, but there’s still concern about COVID and getting back into the workplace,” Shephard said. “That seems to be a big concern for people who don’t want to walk into a warehouse with 100 other people and be uncertain if they’re taking the right precautions.”

He said unemployment insurance and subsidies are also hurting the hiring industry.

At the same time, opportunities to work from home are also widely available.

“E-commerce is up 30 percent year over year. Not just with Amazon, also Walmart, Target, Best Buy,” Shephard said. “Anybody that’s anybody is going to the e-commerce model. Not just because of COVID, but because it’s easier in general.”

Shephard said the uptick in e-commerce leads to more opportunities for warehouse jobs, manufacturing, customer service, and call center work for seasonal and fulltime employment.

To check out what employment opportunities are available for seasonal, part-time or full-time work, Shephard suggests checking out his company’s website at https://hiredynamics.com/ as well as LinkedIn, Indeed and ZipRecruiter.

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