Employment new in the USA

The eruption of Covid-19 virus has a detrimental effect on US economy. The situation is getting better after administration of vaccines and the economy is finally opening. The schools are also back to normal routine and some of the federal aid is also ending. Strangely, the workers are in no rush to go back to work. The companies are offering better higher wages and better benefits. Yet, there are almost a million more jobs than the available workforce.

Expectations of Labor Flooding

Autumn was expected to be the beginning of labor returning to work in numbers. But this unexpected labor shortage has held back the US economic recovery ambitions. With the reopening of schools and ending of expanded unemployment benefits the businesses were expecting the flooding of employees back to work.  But the return is slower than the expectations.

Workers are in no Hurry to Return

It seems like that the workers are still conscious about their health and are not willing to take unnecessary risks. In addition, the savings which they have accumulated during the pandemic is giving them room to turn down jobs. As a result, there are more jobs in the market than the available workers. For the first time in decades workers find themselves in an advantageous position where they can wait for a job with higher wage, flexible working hours and better working conditions. During August along, 4.3 million US workers quit their jobs in quest for a better opportunity.

“It’s like the whole country is in some kind of union renegotiation,” said Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economist who was an adviser to President Barack Obama. “I don’t know who’s going to win in this bargaining that’s going on right now, but right now it seems like workers have the upper hand.”

Economists are of the opinion that extra savings might not be the sole reasons of workers not going back to jobs. But the leverage the workers have is allowing people to be more selective about their job preferences.

The whooping high 4.3 million workers quitting the job during August is not a healthy sign for US economy. The next few months are very critical. The economists and government will be closely monitoring the workers preferences in coming weeks.

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Holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. As the season is nearing, Walmart is planning to onboard approximately 150,000 new US store associates. Most of these positions are permanent and full-time. These jobs will be offered across the US. The purpose of this hiring is to cater the surging demand and providing good customer services during the busy season days.

Walmart Hiring to Cater Surge in Customer Demand

Alongside this new hiring plan the company is also planning to offer the existing employees the opportunity to work extra hours.  This is company’s second hiring drive in recent times. At end of August the company announced 20,000 permanent jobs for supply chain workers across the US. The purpose of the recruitment drive was to meet the ever-growing demand of the shoppers. Walmart hired 500,000 store associates during last year. Most of the hiring included the e-commerce fulfillment center associates as customers headed for online shopping.

What Walmart is offering?

The retail giant has developed good wage plans. The US average hourly wage is $16.40. There will be an opportunity to quickly go up the ladder. The jobs in the store may pay as high as $34 per hour. Similarly, entry lever associates have the opportunity get promoted to roles of responsibility and higher wages. They are also offering a path for everyone to build a career. Walmart is offering on the job trainings and classroom trainings to help associates develop and grow. In order to satisfy the demand of customers they have not only planned to hire new associates, but they plan to provide additional benefits to the existing associates. These include wage raises, more full-time roles offering and paying 100% of their college tuition and books.

How to Apply

There are multiple ways to apply for associate jobs. Interested applicants may apply through in-store, online or directly through Me@Walmart app.

Walmart is looking to add talented people in the pool of their sales associates. They know that their customers will be looking up to these associates for finding wonderful gifts and meal deals for their loved ones.

 

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Walmart announced that they have planned to build a 72,000 square feet distribution facility in Spartanburg County. Walmart will invest $450 million on this project and it will create more than 400 supply chain jobs. Many growth opportunities will come towards the residents of Spartanburg County. The new high-tech distribution center is all set to open in 2024. Employment information will be shared closer to the facility’s opening date.

A Dynamic Mix of Technology & Workers

The company said that this new facility’s workforce will be a combination of Walmart associates, automation technology, robotics and machine learning. The versatile mix of resources will process perishable grocery such as eggs, dairy, frozen goods and will deliver them to nearby stores. It will be the biggest distribution center of Walmart till date. It will deliver two times more products than the traditional Walmart distribution centers across US.

Walmart is Adopting Technology

“Walmart’s high-tech grocery distribution center will include game-changing innovations that are radically disrupting the supply chain, getting products onto shelves for our customers even faster, while saving time for our associates. We’re proud to be opening Walmart’s largest automated grocery distribution center in Spartanburg County and look forward to bringing new STEM job opportunities to the region,” said Walmart U.S., Senior Vice President, Automation and Innovation, David Guggina.

The retail giant’s high-tech distribution center is part of their automation technology initiative in the supply chain. Their first automated distribution center was opened in 2018 and it has helped them in reducing cost and improving efficiency.

The Hiring Plan

The high-tech distribution center is expected to create more than 400 jobs related to supply change. This initiative will boost the economic growth of South Carolina and will create even more opportunities. Currently, Walmart is operating 4 distribution centers, 122 retails stores and 34136 resources are employed in South Carolina district.

The concept of automated stores is on the rise and it may result is reduction of redundant jobs. However, the future jobs will require advanced skill sets and now is the time to learn future skills.

 

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Mercedes-Benz U.S. International hiring hundreds of new employees for its plants in Tuscaloosa and Bibb counties. Mercedes are anticipating production of electric cars in 2022.

Job Announcement

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International announced that new full-time workers will be hired by the end of this year. The positions to be filled are in the department of assembly, body shop and paint shop. Some of the employees will be hired at their battery plant in Bibb County. The assembly of high voltage EV battery systems will be performed at Bibb Country. The company is looking for workers having production experience in automobile industry. Opportunity can also be provided to less experienced workers having manufacturing trainings.

“MBUSI’s commitment to being the best luxury auto manufacturer in North America is most evident in our workforce,” said Michael Göbel, president and CEO of MBUSI. “As our production continues to accelerate and evolve, we are growing the team we’ve built with additional support on a local level.”

Wages and Other Benefits

The company plans to offer $20 per hour wage rate which will rise to $25 per hour during next 4 years. The company will also provide shift premium along with MBUSI benefits programs. These benefits include:

  • Health and life insurance
  • Defined contribution retirement plan with a 401(k) match
  • An annual bonus
  • Paid holidays, vacation and emergency vacation days, along with a paid winter shutdown
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • An on-site childcare, medical center and fitness center

Eligibility Criteria

Mercedes Benz will start the production of two electric cars in 2022. The company has also planned to open a battery pack assembly facility in Bibb County. Immediate job openings are available in assembly, body shop and paint shop. Some positions are also available at the battery plant where high-voltage EV battery systems will be assembled. Applicant must have high school diploma or GED-equivalent along with 1-3 years manufacturing or industrial experience. The applicant must be able to perform essential functions of the job.

“If you want to get out of a job and into a career, this is the place to be,” said Steven King, a member of the MBUSI assembly production team who has worked at the company for 20 years.

 

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Schools in US are struggling to retain and hire teachers. So much so that a school in California was forced to send flyers home in students’ lunch boxes. The purpose was to tell parents that school is hiring teachers. There are schools where principles are acting as crossing guards. Schools are offering signing bonuses. In some districts schools are returning back to online learning due to shortage of faculty.

Teachers are Over-Burdened

It appears that teachers are not willing to work due to unsafe Covid protocols, lower wages and overwork. Teachers around US are either quitting or opting for early retirement. Scarcity of school teachers was an area of concern even prior to Covid. However, the situation has become graver during pandemic. Some schools are closing while others are facing severe shortage of teachers. Most of the teachers are over-burdened and are getting burnt out.

States Affected by Teacher Scarcity

Public schools are witnessing the issue of teacher’s shortage in fields of math, science, language and special education. Overwork and stress in Covid 19 era caused an increase in retirements and resignations. Teacher shortages and difficulties in hiring teachers are reported in New Jersey, South Dakota and Tennessee. All these districts have started the school year with hundreds of unfilled teaching vacancies. The skewed seasonal adjustment also played a role in decline of jobs. Other states are also facing similar crisis of unfilled faculty positions in schools.

Initiatives by Biden’s Administration

In June 2021, Biden’s government announced a $9 billion American Families Plan to address teacher’s shortage. The purpose of this package is to train, equip and diversify the teachers. These funds will be utilized to increase the number of people studying education and who want to get into education sector. The other purpose is to retain the existing teaching workforce and encourage people from other sectors to join education sector. Nearly one third of this $9 billion fund will go towards “Grow your Own” programs. These programs aim to recruit, retain and develop teachers.

Pandemic has seriously affected the teaching sector and US is facing the issue of teachers shortage. Some districts are affected more than others. Although the government is working for resolving this crisis. However, it looks like that the issue will persist in times to come.

 

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Like many other firms across United States Amazon is also facing labor market constraints. The retail giant has now announced to fill in 125,000 roles across the country. The company announced that they will pay an average of $18 an hour and $22.50 per hour in some locations.

Nature of Announced Jobs

The 125,000 newly announced jobs include both full-time and part-time jobs. These jobs are announced in the departments of retail fulfillment and transportation operations. These jobs will be in addition to 40,000 new corporate and technology job openings announced by Amazon last month.

Compensation Structure

Full-time employees will get additional $3.50 per hour along with health, dental, vision insurance and 20 weeks parental leaves. Amazon has also announced that they will cover the cost of college tuition including books and fee for its 750,000 hourly employees nationwide. Amazon further announced that they will offer a $3,000 signing bonus to the latest round of the logistic workers they plan to hire. It is the second time they have increased wages and offered signing bonuses in effort to attract workforce. Back in May 2021, they increased the wage to $17 per hour and hired 75,000 employees. Amazon also offered signing bonus of $1,000.

These jobs will be announced across US. Most of the job roles will be in California, Florida, New York and Texas. As per the company statement, 7500 opportunities will be provided in Arizona alone. Amazon also plant to setup over 250 new fulfillment centers, sortation centers, regional hubs and delivery stations in the US this year. Company also plans to open over 100 more buildings.

Last month Amazon’s employees at a facility in Albama voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The company watched this decision very closely.  This recruitment drive was announced soon after that event.

 

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US labor market is going through a crunch these days. Hiring and retention of employees is always a challenge for employers as the candidate pool is shrinking. Recently, a new trend has emerged where the new hires work at a place for a few days and then move to another workplace for better paid wages. This phenomenon is termed as “ghosting coasting”.

How Does Ghosting Work:

There are around a million more positions in US right now than the applicants looking for jobs. The surplus supply of jobs gives more bargain power to potential candidates along with freedom to switch the job easily. The current trend of ghosting is currently prevailing in US service industry but is becoming a challenge for manufacturing and other sectors too.

Ghosting Coasting as a Challenge:

Ghosting is causing grave concerns for US employers. The severity of the issue can be identified through the fact that Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has mentioned it in the Fed’s latest round up. “Retention continued to be a growing problem for firms. Restauranteurs noted concerns over ‘ghosting coasting,’ where a new hire works for a few days. Then he/she moves on to the next restaurant without notice before they are let go due to lack of skills”, said the Atlanta Fed.

This practice is not new but is spreading rapidly as the job openings have outpaced job applicants. This has given the job seekers a certain measure of negotiating power. They find it easy to switch to another job. This is causing retention challenges for the employers. A food service recruiter claimed that she scheduled 58 interviews for jobs ranging from $14 to $20 and only 27 applicants showed up.

The Workers Stance:

The Fed’s linked the ghosting phenomena with workers being unqualified for the jobs. The workers claim that ghosting is occurring due to misleading job description, inadequate trainings, poor compensation plans and over burdening.  Matt Murphey, an Oregon restaurant worker told an insider that “The main reason employees are ghosting employers is they simply no longer have to put up with horrible working conditions, terrible bosses, low pay, and being overworked”.

It appears that the food service industry is the biggest victim of ghosting and the trend is rising in other employment sectors as well.

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The US jobs data for September 2021 has been released.

  • Nonfarm jobs are increased by 194,000 which are fewer as compared to jobs created in August
  • Unemployment percentage is reduced to 4.8%
  • Leisure and hospitality sector are leading the job creation

194,000 jobs were added during the month of September 2021 in contrast to the estimation made by Dow Jones of 500,000 jobs. This has created doubts regarding sustainability and revival of the economy. However, the unemployment is reduced to 4.8% which is better than estimated 5.1%. This is considered an improvement and employability is already at a level where Federal Reserve officials had estimated it to be by the end of December 2021.

The drop in unemployment percentage is because more people who got unemployed during Covid 19 are now returning to the workforce. Along with reduced unemployment there has been increase in wages of 0.6% during September 2021. This is the reflection of the fact that the employers are using wage increases to cater the labor shortage after pandemic. As per the stats from US jobs data the available workforce is 3.1 million less from where it was in February 2020. It means that people are still reluctant to get back to work. Andrew Hunter, senior US economist at Capital Economics

Most of the jobs were created in the leisure and hospitality sector adding 74,000 jobs. Unemployment rate for that sector has reduced from 9.1% to 7.7% in September 2021 which is considered as a healthy sign. Professional and business services sector added 60,000 new jobs whereas retail jobs were increase by 56,000. The employment to population ratio was increased up to 58.7% and is highest since March 2020.

Job losses in education were the one of the major causes of reduced jobs during September 2021. As per trend from 2000-2018 back to school hiring mostly occurs in September. However, employment is local school education were decreased by 144,000, state government education by 17,000 and private education by 19,000. 

As per CNBC, Federal Reserve officials are monitoring the jobs data. It has also been indicated by the Central Bank that they are ready to withdraw some of the benefits which are being offered due to pandemic. This might lead to increased labor supply during coming months. 

 

Kaiser Permanente workers in South California overwhelmingly voted to authorize the strikes. Over 21000 nurses, midwives, therapists etc. being represented by United Nurses Association/Union of Healthcare Professionals have authorized for strikes through voting which started on October 1, 2021. Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest healthcare providers in the country. 

Kaiser proposed a two-tiered wage and benefit system through which newly hired workers will receive lower wages and fewer benefits and the union wants Kaiser to roll back this new wage and benefits system. Additionally, the union wants 4% raise each year for the next three years along with the commitment to hire more nurses to cater staff shortages. According to union, more strike authorization may be coming from Georgia, Hawaii, Colorado, Virginia if they could not reach an agreement with Kaiser’s management. The weekend’s vote authorization will not trigger the strikes immediately. The union must give Kaiser 10-day notice before any work stoppages. A senior vice president of human resources Arlene Peasnall said in his statement that it is not strange that the negotiations are carried out without an active contract in place and Kaiser is working actively to come up with an agreement with the union.

The union stated that Kaiser Permanente has $44 billion cash in reserves and have a positive financial outlook as compared to many other healthcare systems, so these proposed pay cuts and reduced benefits are unacceptable. The Times reported that Kaiser’s spokesperson saying that an impartial analysis revealed that union-represented employee wages are at least 26% higher as compared to the other markets where the company operates. The wages count for more than 50% of the overall cost structure. This wage and benefits reduction plan is only applicable on new hires and will not impact the 48,000 employees. 

In addition to United Nurses Association/Union of Healthcare Professionals, there are other large group of workers around US who have already voted to authorize strikes while they are in process of negotiating their contract. They include Frontier Communication workers in California, Transit workers in Beaumont, Texas, Oiho and Akron. In addition to that around 1100 coalminers are on strike for the past six months.

It appears that the post-covid labor/workforce dynamics are shaping up. The coming few weeks will present a clear picture on how the things will unfold.

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