HUNTSVILLE, Ala – As Alabama’s unemployment rate drops, there are still more jobs than people up north. The pandemic has still left its mark though. The local workforce is seeing a shift as more opportunities open up to former service workers.
If you drive down any busy road, you’ve probably seen the “Help Wanted” or “Hiring on Spot” signs. Leaving some people to wonder, where did the workers go? Are they staying on the couch? According to Spherion Staffing Huntsville, that’s not likely the case.
“If you were previously at Burger King, now you might be able to go to a warehouse, making a little more and gaining a skill that will allow you to advance in the American workforce,” said Kylah Glenn, the Director of Recruitment for Spherion Staffing.
Glenn says a boom in e-commerce and shipping has lessened entry-level requirements for higher-paying jobs.
“This has given people an opportunity to get entry level positions that they were previously maybe turned away from,” said Glenn.
Spherion’s data suggests while tourism and hospitality jobs are getting back on their feet,
food service among other service-driven fields are being stretched thin by focusing on rebooting their businesses on top of getting qualified workers.
“The last thing a business owner should be doing right now is worrying about how to staff while worrying about how to run their business,” said Glenn.
The job market has been competitive in North Alabama for some time. Making this minor shift from service jobs to light industrial, a bigger deal. Glenn says prospective employees have more options too. Meaning businesses need to do more to stick out.
“A lot of us have been in our entry-level careers where we are just scrambling for any job. Now you have 16 offering you a job. What do you do? Which one do you take?”
Spherion Staffing says the people they screen are not just worried about wages. Instead, they are looking more at work culture and opportunities to advance. People also want to work somewhere where they can develop and build skills.
“Think about those creative things you can add to make your company more desirable in the market,” said Glenn.
The staffing agency says they have no data that suggests people are choosing to stay on their couches. The data they do have, shows more jobs have been created, making it harder for some industries to be competitive.
In talking to several service industry owners, they’ve been given the impression prospective employees are seeking more job security should another global event shutter businesses like COVID-19. Some North Alabama 4 and 2 year colleges have also experienced enrollment growth during the pandemic.