Founder Voni Walker Talks About Our Local Labor Market
From the Editor, 9/1/21
What a wild ride the pandemic has been, and as everyone knows at this point, it totally shifted the supply and demand equation in the labor market. Walker Business seems to be a more valuable service than ever, for those looking for a new job and the businesses who are understaffed. Voni Walker is the leading expert after three decades of leading the areas premier staffing agency. She answered some questions posed about the unprecedented state of the American workforce:
In your decades of matching employers and employees you have under your belt, have you seen anything like our current labor market?
Voni: I have been in business for 30 years and never have we experienced this type of labor market. We have experienced shortages when large numbers of employees have been laid off and moved to other locations then the economy takes a turn for the better and those employees are needed but no longer available. This labor market is very challenging to us and our clients.
Is it true that you have almost one hundred job openings right now?
Voni: Yes, this is true. Most of these openings are in our Bradford, PA office, however, there are many in our Wellsville and Olean offices.
What sector are most of the jobs in, or is it literally every business under the sun seeking help?
Voni: There are several sectors, however, the majority of open positions are laborer positions working 1st or 2nd shifts. One client has rolled several of our employees onto their payroll and is in need of 20 more. Many of our clients tend to hire our employees after they work a certain amount of hours and prove they are good workers. There is never a guarantee of this, but in this labor market it tends to be a trend.
How has this labor shortage impacted wages? Can you give an example of how the pandemic has increased paychecks?
Voni: Many of our clients have increased starting wages above minimum wage which is $12.50 per hour. Each client has different starting wages based on the job description but it is safe to say wages range from $13.00 – $15.00 per hour. One client needed 20 employees for three days, originally they were paying $18.00 per hour but no one wanted to work for $18.00 per hour because it could affect their unemployment. The client ended up offering $25.00 per hour for those three days and we were able to hire enough employees.
Are any of your customers currently offering sign-on bonuses?
Voni: Yes, we have a couple of clients who are offering sign on bonuses. The employee has to work a certain amount of time to receive the entire bonus. This has helped but not enough.
Is there any end to this labor crisis in sight?
Voni: I am hopeful this will improve by years end ONLY if the government stops the extra weekly unemployment. I certainly understand, as a parent and grandparent, applicants/employees hesitation to return to work with COVID still raising its ugly head. There are daycare issues and return to work place issues, mask mandates, vaccine mandates and other obstacles other than unemployment; however, more times than not the reason to not return to work is they can make more staying home and collecting unemployment.
Our clients are struggling to find employees so they call us for assistance and in a lot of cases, together we have been successful in finding one or two.
If anyone is interested in going back to work or is entering the work force for the first time, please check out our website or Facebook page for our open position. You can also call one of our offices for more information.