Unemployment rate on a steady downfall, yet employers struggle to fill openings

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since before the pandemic: In March of 2021, the rate was at 6% nationally according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compare that to 14.8% in April of 2020. For Rochester, the unemployment rates show a steady decline as well.

Ferah Roman with the Rochester Chamber of Commerce says while the downward trend of unemployment is great news, it’s a slow process. Many people are still taking their time getting back to work.

And there’s an unexpected curveball in all this. Roman says the biggest challenge for job agencies right now is an abundance of jobs openings – but not enough applicants. “I’ve been in the staffing arena for almost 20 years now and this is the worst I’ve seen it,” she said.

There’s a few reasons this could be the case. Firstly, the fear of COVID in the workplace is still out there. Another factor is all the funding and aid from the pandemic. That includes the stimulus package, and the $300 Economic Impact Payments on top of already-existing unemployment checks. The additional layer of security could be causing people to take their time and be more selective in choosing where they want to work.

Roman says for the people who are ready to get working again, there’s many options out there: jobs in administrative work, call center, and manufacturing – one of the most popular for Rochester.

“Rochester has always been a manufacturing industry, we are growing significantly by leaps and bounds,” she said.

Colin Sheridan is the President of The Germanow-Simon – a manufacturing corporation founded in Rochester over 100 years ago.  The organization owns Tel-Tru Manufacturing, a leading supplier of bimetal thermometers and has an associate company GS Plastic Optics. Sheridan says there definitely is a demand for jobs lately, and confirms the applicant pool is very low.

“We have a large demand for folks with what are called middle skills – so that’s generally folks with some education beyond high school, but not necessarily a four year college degree, said Sheridan. “Machinists, technicians, stamping operators … supervisors and managers, line leads.”

And their business is in very high need due to  the pandemic. Products used in food service and medical fields, including thermometers.

“We supply thermometers to many of the high end BBQ manufacturers, they’re seeing unprecedented growth as more and more people are doing more cooking at home,” he said.

Both Roman and Sheridan say the goal is getting more younger ages to break in this industry; many employees are getting close to the retirement age.

And if manufacturing isn’t for you – it doesn’t have to be. Roman says keep an open mind if you’re looking – there’s something out there for everyone.

RBA Staffing will be hosting a drive through job fair on Thursday, April 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information can be found here.

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