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Valley employers continue hunt for employees after pandemic unemployment benefits expire

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:51 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - The Labor Department reported Tuesday, Oct. 13 that about 4.3 million workers left their jobs in August .

“Help wanted” signs can be seen all around the Valley, and some say it’s still hard to find staff members. After pandemic unemployment benefits expired in September, many employers hoped they’d be able to fill some open positions.

Jaime Breeden with LaborMAX in Waynesboro, a company that places people in open positions, says they’ve seen an increase in interest in open positions in the last month.

“I think people are out here and, if they’re getting unemployment benefits, I think that’s what they kind of want to do,” Breeden said.

Jeff Fife with Waynesboro Family YMCA says it’s been difficult trying to fill positions.

“You have the issue of either people not applying, or they apply, and they ghost you and don’t come out to the interview. It’s a fascinating hiring climate right now,” Fife said.

Fife says the YMCA is hiring positions in fitness, in childcare and at the front desk.

“For childcare, we haven’t even received an application in the past two weeks. For the front desk, we had eight interviews set up and two of them showed,” Fife said.

He says employers have to be able to show the perks of working there.

“There are a lot of people that are looking for work, so if you don’t have a strong wage, a strong benefit package, or what we have here at The Y, just a great place to work, it’s really hard to get people off their couches,” Fife said.

Still, he says some positions are harder to hire than others.

“What I find is the higher-end positions, if it’s salaried with benefits, I’m not struggling as much as the hourly wage positions that we need to fill here,” Fife said.

Breeden says he’s not the only one seeing trends like that. She says there are a number of reasons a person would turn down a job.

“Sometimes it can be the hours, it can be the days of the week,” Breeden said.

Bar and restaurant employees were often the ones quitting at a record pace, the Department of Labor reported.

“We’ve seen more of the restaurants maybe like social clubs, things like that and other places wanting kitchen assistance or kitchen help,” Breeden said.

Fife says resources are stretched for him and his employees.

“Two of my employees are working seven days a week for the next three weeks until we get the next round of people in,” he said.

A recent survey found there were more than 10 million job openings at the end of August.

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