Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

“A working-class economy”: The end of the pandemic may not bring results that employers expect, says Professor | news

Compass Systems Inc. is rich in orders for drones but lacks the people to build them, said David Bjornberg, director of engineering and manufacturing.

Manufacturing for the commercial and defense industries is a common way of working in Johnstown, he said.

But Compass and other employers face an unusually calm response to job vacancies.

Compass, a company with 110 employees – 30 of them in Johnstown – is looking for five additional employees, including workers who manufacture products and check their quality.

“I used to be able to call a temporary employment agency and get an answer right away,” he says.

“But now I’ll call and – barbecue – they can’t reach any people.”

Workers strive for the perfect job, said Brock Kull, vice president and general manager of Manpower Inc. Johnstown, which provides temporary and permanent staff.

Kull has been evaluating current and future market conditions for 25 years. He is also a member of the Southern Alleghenies Workforce Development Board, a public-private group appointed by the area’s local elected officials to identify labor needs in the area.

“This is a working class economy where they are in charge,” he said. “Almost everyone needs employees at all levels, from entry level to management level.”

“Change your life”

The pandemic has turned people’s ideas about work upside down, Kull said.

“The employees name their days and hours,” he said.

“People in blue-collar jobs – important workers – started thinking about ways to change their lives and work from home, and those who stayed in important jobs started asking for more money.

These changes caused a stir in the labor market.

Compass’ contract prices with customers are locked in so the company cannot simply increase entry-level wages to compete with larger companies that have increased wages over the course of the pandemic, Björnberg said.

“We are struggling with rising wages because the demand for labor is so great,” he said.

It’s a worker-centered environment, said Kull.

“Right now you see that those who want to work or who cannot afford not to work are hopping from job to job and filling positions,” he said.

“Employers clean up each other, and it really does happen in everything from general work to managerial positions.”

People who continued to work during the pandemic are looking for more money, Kull said, while those who haven’t worked are looking for jobs they believe will provide a living wage.

Wages and options

Jim Curley returned to his homestead in Johnstown two years ago. He enjoyed a 20 year career as an occupational therapist in the Harrisburg area after graduating from college and serving in the military.

Curley couldn’t find a job in Johnstown that would give him the wages he got in the bigger city. The full-time wages he has found in Johnstown, between $ 12 and $ 14 an hour, need to be supplemented by other sources of income.

Although he is currently looking for a job, he prefers to live on savings than filing an unemployment claim because he said he wanted to make money and not get any money.

“If I can’t find a job here, I’ll end up doing travel therapy where the pay is lucrative,” he said. “But I want to be here. I’m in love with my hometown. “

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits served many people as inter-job income, but that program ends on September 4. The cliff will affect more than 640,000 Pennsylvanians in the unemployment system, data from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry shows.

Regular jobless applicants – 77,743 people – will continue to receive benefits but will not receive the additional $ 300 per week provided by federal pandemic unemployment benefits.

In addition, there are 174,572 unemployed applicants who receive extended unemployment benefits, which means that they receive benefits beyond the 26 weeks of regular benefits. That ends on September 4th as well.

Finally, 387,932 applicants using pandemic unemployment benefits for people who normally are not eligible for regular benefits – such as temporary workers and the self-employed – will also stop receiving benefits.

“The Tribute of Uncertainty”

As a result, employers are hoping people will return to the workforce, but research by Penn State professor Sarah Damaske suggests the opposite may be the case.

Damaske is a Penn State Associate Professor of Sociology, Labor, and Industrial Relations.

Her book The Tolls of Uncertainty, published in May, examines how unemployment affects families, finances, health and job hunting.

In an interview with Pennsylvanians prior to the pandemic, she noted that unemployment benefits are running out for people who are actually doing a worse job looking for work.

“I’ve seen it over and over again in my research with people in Pennsylvania in precisely this situation,” she said, “where benefits were running out or too little to support their families.”

She said people have a hard time focusing on their job search because they are busy calling the phone company to see if they can get another plan, calling the electricity company to see how they can get theirs Can reconfigure utility bills, and check their eligibility for groceries banks.

“It (the loss of achievement) makes it harder to find work,” she said.

“While companies are asking for unemployment benefits to be stopped so workers can get back to work, I actually think they are misunderstanding how unemployment benefits actually help them.”

‘Mixed signals’ in jobs

June statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, released in August, show an unemployment rate of 7.3% in Cambria County.

Damaske said half of all states have already stopped the extra benefits and the expansion of the pandemic, but still see the challenges to work.

There is evidence of a multifaceted response to the shortage of applicants, she said.

“We can see that women, especially those in low-wage jobs, especially women of color, have not returned to the labor market in numbers that they did before the pandemic,” she said.

“Daycare centers have reopened – but they are not fully utilized again. Camps have not reopened. and schools have sent mixed signals about programs. “

All of these factors dampen women’s participation in the labor market, she said.

“We also know that women are most often employed in these low-wage jobs – restaurants and hospitality – where people say they have a hard time finding workers,” she said.

Russ O’Reilly is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @RussellOReilly.

Comments are closed.