Job seekers struggle to find work despite openings in some companies

For years, manufacturers in the region have struggled to increase their workforce, but finding staff remains a major problem for many.

However, there are workers looking for a job. Two experienced workers – James Parker from Kent and Tammy (who only wanted to use his first name) from Akron – have been looking for new jobs since the early days of the pandemic, but have found nothing but frustration.

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Parker said there is a community of unemployed people online on the “Official Unemployment Information and Help” Facebook group, which has 8,300 members.

“I really applied for anything,” he said. “I applied for positions in which I have experience. They say there are jobs, but you never hear a thing. You call them up and they say, “Well, we’ll call you back when we have something open. “

He estimates he has applied for around 40 jobs in the past two months.

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Tammy’s background is a bit more white collar. At 52, she worked for 27 years as a recruiter for companies in the region. Her most recent employer in Akron closed the store at the start of the pandemic.

“They decided they were going to close three sites, and Akron’s office was one of the ones they closed,” she said.

She also applied for a variety of positions in addition to recruiter positions and did DoorDash to keep the lights on.

“I was DoorDashing in the winter because the town of Akron was not as dangerous as it was in the summer,” she said, explaining that violence tends to increase during the summer months.

Portage Development Board chairman Brad Ehrhart said companies are looking for employees and some will take on older employees, either because they desperately need people or because they value the reliability of experienced workers.

“I would tell people not to give up on research,” he said. “There are a lot of businesses that will pick up just about anyone who shows up at the door.”

He said many companies struggle to get candidates to show up for scheduled interviews.

“They organize interviews and turn themselves into ghosts,” he said. “If you just show up for an interview, you’re already getting good grades with the HR person. “

In fact, he said, Parker, if he wishes, may be able to apply for a position at Paris Linens, which is looking for people.

“At Rubbermaid, they might be willing to hire someone older and wiser because they’re wiser,” he added.

He also said that with all other factors between a pair of candidates being equal, an older employee would simply cost more to insure than a younger one. The difference in health insurance premium could be enough to influence an employer towards a younger candidate for purely financial reasons.

Parker and Tammy both face financial challenges, including receiving little or no Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) money due to the low income they have.

Parker said he receives $ 19 a month in SNAP benefits, which go to the grocery store.

“I get $ 243 a week of unemployment,” he said, adding that an extra $ 19 doesn’t go far.

Tammy said she was not getting SNAP money because her income was too high.

“Two hundred dollars is too much money,” she said. “You must be kidding me.”

She said she applied for a variety of jobs including Akron University, Akron City Schools, Amazon and more.

“These are jobs that I feel suitable for, in my experience; I meet all the criteria, ”she said. “I thought this would be our market because we are told there are so many jobs, but they choose and choose.”

Parker and Tammy both said some companies can be misleading about the amount of compensation. They may advertise that you can start at $ 17 or $ 18 an hour, but after a period of time that can be reduced.

He said a woman he met saw her pay at an area gas station drop from initially $ 18 an hour to $ 12.50 an hour.

“They tell people that they are going to pay them this amount, but they do not tell them how long it will last,” he said.

Parker said he recently had to hand over one of his cars to the bank.

“I have another car but, you know, it’s still not something I wanted to do,” he said.

Fortunately, he was able to manage other finances with a little help.

“When the pandemic started, I had a plan for my electricity to be a fixed amount each month,” he said. “I have what is called a PIP.”

He said it was a percentage of the income plan, meaning his electricity is a fixed amount based on his income, which he should be able to afford if he budgets well in other areas. .

Parker said calling United Way’s 211 hotline was also helpful.

Parker and Tammy both said they didn’t want to settle for a low-paying position either, given their background.

“I just worked so hard to get to the position I was in,” she said. “For me, even to take a $ 12 an hour job, I can’t demean myself with everything I’ve accomplished in my life. I still have a lot of years of work and I have a lot of energy left.

Do you have a business or healthcare story you’d like to share? Journalist Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, [email protected] and @bobgaetjens_rc.

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