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Employment numbers are growing, but there are still more jobs than workers in Ohio

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Posted at 8:30 AM, Mar 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-13 08:30:29-04

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Recent labor reports show there are more job openings in Ohio than there are workers to fill the vacancies. The tight labor market is putting a squeeze on employers looking for seasonal help.

“It’s a tough job market right now. It’s an employee market. Employers are doing everything they can to create buzz and to try to find people,” said Damian Cosby, the director of golf at Cleveland Metroparks.

Saturday morning, Cleveland Metroparks hosted a seasonal hiring fair at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It’s looking to fill positions across its 18 reservations, golf courses, dining, retail, marinas, and the zoo. More than 500 people pre-registered for the job fair, exceeding staff expectations.

“Today has been great. We had a lot of great candidates, a great response, a lot of positive people, eager to get back into the workforce,” said Jason Reed, the general manager of culinary operations.

Reed explained a lack of workers in recent years forced some Metropark locations to limit hours and menus or temporarily close. This year, the system plans to resume its programming and reopen closed locations.

Though the showing of job seekers at the hiring fair was a promising sign for staffing, employers recognized they’ll need to offer competitive wages and appealing workplace culture.

“I have been getting a few job offers,” said Misty Blaylock, who has been job hunting for the past month. “It’s just a matter of ‘what now?’ [I’m] narrowing it down [based on] driving distance, pay rates, and what I think will be best fitting for myself.”

Jonathan Ernest, an assistant professor of economics at Case Western Reserve University, explained many employers are vying for the same employees, while at the same time competing with independent and app-based gigs. Positions like rideshare driving, dog walking, or grocery delivery give workers the flexibility to choose when and how much they work.

“The question becomes: how do you attract some of those workers? And what are they looking for? And how do you get them to show up for job fairs and things when you want to fill all of these positions?” Ernest said.

Ohio Job and Family Services’ latest report showed about 246,000 unemployed Ohioans in January. It’s 8,000 fewer workers than the 254,000+ job listings posted on the Ohio Means Jobs website.

Ernest explained it remains unclear what impact the return of workers could have on inflation. Though he said inflation could affect some workforce industries, such as construction where rising costs could halt projects.

“That’ll help limit the number of jobs, which will limit the number of workers needed. And then we’ll better be able to match that pool of workers to those jobs,” he said.

Current employment statistics show employment numbers growing, both in the past month and year, in most Ohio job sectors. Exceptions include healthcare, educational and health services, and government positions, which all had declining employment.

Some employers hope the numbers are a sign of improvement in the labor market.

“I’m cautiously optimistic. There are people out there who do want to work and we’re doing everything we can to find them,” Cosby said.

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