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‘Ton of jobs’ available in Lucas County, and thousands of workers needed to fill them

When the University of Toledo told her last week that her job in the dean’s office was ending until at least May, Chloe Smith panicked — how would she pay rent?

That day, she saw an ad seeking cashiers, baggers, and shelf stockers at Walt Churchill’s Market and applied. She was on a new payroll three days later.

“It was either this or get evicted,” the 18-year-old said.

She is among tens of thousands of workers who have been displaced by various business closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But there are still some essential businesses, like grocery stores, that need employees — thousands more — if you’re willing to risk exposing yourself to the public and possibly the virus.

“I’m not worried because I’m younger, so I know it can’t really affect me,” Ms. Smith said. “I just have to keep my distance from my grandparents.”

Walmart has said it wants to hire 150,000 temporary workers nationwide by the end of May, 5,700 of them in Ohio. ALDI is hiring in all stores and distribution centers. Kroger is seeking 10,000 associates

Both Walmart and Kroger are offering one-time bonuses to every hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, and customer service associate, amounting to $300 for every full-time associate and $150 for every part-time associate.

Amazon, too, has opened 100,000 new positions nationwide, in addition to 1,500-2,000 jobs at its new fulfillment center being built in Rossford.

And Tonia Saunders, executive director of Lucas County Workforce Development Board Area 9, said OhioMeansJobs Lucas County is always pushing to train commercial truck drivers, another position deemed essential during the outbreak.

Company websites show postings for seasonal, part time, and full time work.

“We’re seeing a ton of jobs,” Ms. Saunders said. “We have a lot of growth happening in Lucas County right now, which is a blessing. There are a lot of people right now needed to fill a lot of jobs.”

How many jobs hasn’t been quantified to know if it could cover the more than 111,000 Ohioans who have filed for unemployment. But she said those looking for supplemental work shouldn’t have trouble finding it.

“I think people are looking for just about anything at this point,” Ms. Saunders said. “I don’t think people are being too picky.”

By Wednesday last week, Churchill’s CFO Randy Rothenbuhler said he’d already received 75 applications for the store’s 30 open positions across its two locations. His workers are spread so thin trying to keep up with demand that he’s been stocking shelves himself.

He particularly hopes the new positions aid “our friends in the food industry,” whose jobs were lost following Gov. Mike DeWine’s order to close all dine-in service at restaurants.

“If [their employment is] temporary, great, and if they like it here maybe they’ll want to stick around,” Mr. Rothenbuhler said.

But not all employers are finding it as easy to fill vacancies.

Craig Bauer, who runs a landscaping business in Monclova Township, said he historically relies on the federal H-2B program to provide the staffing level he needs to keep his business running during the summer. The program allows employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs, if positions can’t be filled by American citizens.

“Back when unemployment was at 4 percent, we didn’t get any U.S. applicants,” Mr. Bauer said. Now that coronavirus concerns have delayed the program, he says he has 25-30 commercial landscaping positions he needs to fill immediately.

Applicants need to be able to lift 50 pounds, pass a drug test, and be able to work 10-hour shifts. Training is available, but prior experience is preferred, he said. Positions start at $14/hour.

“In my business, the grass grows every day. It needs to be cut, so we can’t really shut down,” Mr. Bauer said. “We can really plug in about anybody, anywhere.”

OhioMeansJobs facilities also are continuing to provide job placement services online and by phone, and they are pushing skills development. Ms. Saunders calls the downtime an opportunity for workers to up-skill for higher paying jobs.

“We’re keeping people on track so we’re able to sustain businesses we need now and leave people on good footing to move forward in the future when this blows over,” Ms. Saunders said. “So when the market opens up again they’ll be ready to go… Businesses will need people back.”


Posted By: Toledo Blade on March 22, 2020.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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