CAPITAL REGION — Labor Day 2021 finds the Capital Region labor market still waiting to turn the corner, with many employers having continued difficulty hiring enough people.

The list of potential reasons is often recited: Fear of COVID, lack of childcare options, unwillingness to accept low or medium wages, government policies and payouts removing some of the imperative to earn a living.

That last point has been a recurring narrative in the business community through the pandemic: Enhanced benefits make unemployment more lucrative than employment for many people, particularly when the costs of going to work (child care, meals away from home, commuting) are factored in.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in August 2021, the national workforce participation rate — the percentage of working-age Americans employed or actively seeking employment — stood at 61.7%, down from 63.4% in January 2020, the month before COVID began to spread in the United States.

The New York state Department of Labor estimates that 518,600 people were employed in the Capital Region in July 2021. This compares with 504,100 in July 2020 and 531,700 in July 2019.

The shrinking labor force has left many jobs vacant.

The response by employers has ranged from lowering standards to cutting operating hours to raising starting pay — anything to get people to fill out applications

Money is something they use to catch the job hunter’s eye.

UPS is hiring package handlers at its Latham facility at $26.25 an hour, counting attendance incentives.

ADUSA, the Schodack distribution center serving Hannaford, offers experienced truck drivers $85,000 a year to start, plus a $10,000 signing bonus.

Training helps, too.

CDTA will take people with no commercial license and train them to drive a bus.

GlobalFoundries has an apprenticeship program for young people who lack experience but have a desire to work in the growing semiconductor industry.

Others take a different route, and try to accommodate the needs and wants of their employees so they’ll want to work there.

CHANGE OF PLAN

Heidi Knoblauch has worn a number of hats, including chairperson of Troy’s Industrial Development Authority and Local Development Corp. and venture and growth manager at Pioneer Bank.

She’s also an entrepreneur, opening Plumb Oyster Bar in Troy in 2016 and reopening it late last month after a COVID hiatus.

So how does a restaurant find help in one of the tightest sectors in a tight labor market?

Listen to the employees and reshape the business plan, Knoblauch said. All of the people who reopened Plumb with her Aug. 26 were previous employees who wanted to return under the right circumstances.

“I think the [employers] who are really having trouble with their workforce are looking at their industry with a pre-pandemic lens,” she said. “Employers that are going with the flow are having more success attracting employees. 

“It’s very simple — you just ask them. You say, ‘What is it that gets you excited about this place?’ It doesn’t matter what I want.”

It’s not an autonomous

Flight attendants hand out refreshments to a packed Delta Airlines flight traveling from Ronald Regan National Airport to MinneapolisSaint Paul International Airport on Friday, May 21, 2021.

Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines on Tuesday said it plans to hire another 1,500 flight attendants ahead of summer 2022, becoming the latest carrier to add jobs after travel demand rebounded from pandemic lows.

The Atlanta-based airline was already in the process of filling 1,500 flight attendant jobs with candidates whose hiring was paused at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Delta and other airlines have been racing to fill positions from ramp workers to flight attendants to customer service agents, as well as training pilots, this summer during a surge in travel. The recovery in demand came faster than airline executives said they expected.

Airline CEOs urged thousands of employees to take unpaid or partially paid leaves of absence or early retirement packages to cut labor costs in the depths of the pandemic. About 4,000 Delta flight attendants accepted voluntary separation packages.

Airlines, like other U.S. businesses, are facing staffing crunches, leading to long hold times for customer service and in some cases exacerbating flight delays or cancellations.

Southwest Airlines last week said it is trimming its schedule through the end of the year to ease operational problems that led to hundreds of cancellations and delays this summer. The Dallas-based airline is offering its staff referral incentives worth $300 as it struggles to fill open jobs.

CEO Gary Kelly told staff on Monday that the airline has hired 1,500 people and has a goal of adding 5,200 employees by the end of November.

Delta in May said all new employees must be vaccinated against Covid and said Tuesday that any current Delta employee who is accepted to the flight attendant training program must also be inoculated.

Last week, Delta said unvaccinated employees will be charged $200 more a month for health insurance starting in November.

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FILE – In this March 27, 2020, file photo, a Walgreens sign is displayed outside the store in Wheeling, Ill. Walgreens will hike starting pay to $15 an hour beginning in October, as employers across the United States continue boosting wages to attract workers. The drugstore chain said Tuesday, Aug. 31, 202, that the wage hike will take effect in phases and be completed by November 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

AP

America’s employers added just 235,000 jobs in August, a surprisingly weak gain after two months of robust hiring and the clearest sign to date that the delta variant’s spread has discouraged some people from flying, shopping and eating out.

The August job growth the government reported Friday fell far short of the sizable gains of roughly 1 million in each of the previous two months. The hiring jumps in June and July had followed widespread vaccinations that allowed the economy to fully reopen from pandemic restrictions. Now, with Americans buying fewer plane tickets, reducing hotel stays and filling fewer entertainment venues, some employers in those areas have slowed their hiring.

Still, the number of job openings remains at record levels, with many employers still eager for workers, and overall hiring is expected to stay solid in the coming months. Even with August’s tepid job gain, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% from 5.4% in July. With many consumers still willing to spend and companies to hire, the overall U.S. economy still looks healthy.

The details in Friday’s jobs report showed, though, how the delta variant held back job growth last month. The sectors of the economy where hiring was weakest were mainly those that require face-to-face contact with the public. More Americans said they were unable to work in August because their employer closed or lost business to the pandemic than said so in July.

“The delta variant has taken a bigger toll on the job market than many of us had hoped,” said Sarah House, a senior economist at Wells Fargo. “It’s going to take workers longer to come back to the labor market than we expected.”

A few months ago, many economists, as well as officials at the White House and Federal Reserve, had expected a fading pandemic to encourage more people to resume their job searches. Worries about getting sick on the job would fade, they hoped. And as schools reopened, more parents, particularly women, would return to the workforce.

So far, that hasn’t happened. As a consequence, many economists now predict that the Fed will delay an announcement that it will begin withdrawing the extraordinary support for the economy it unleashed after the pandemic erupted in March of last year.

The August jobs report “slams the door” on the prospect of the Fed announcing a pullback when it meets later this month, said House, the Wells Fargo economist. Fed Chair Jerome Powell made clear last week that the central bank would begin to reverse its ultra-low-rate policies later this

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A350-900 plane takes off from Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

CHICAGO, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) on Tuesday said it would hire 1,500 new flight attendants in anticipation of an increase in demand for air travel next summer.

The announcement comes as many airlines struggle to keep up with a recovery in air travel and are grappling with staff shortages.

Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) last week said it would run fewer flights through the end of the year as a result of a staffing crunch, which disrupted its operations this summer and led to flight delays and cancellations. read more

Delta Air, too, had to cancel about 100 flights in April due to staff shortages. But a company spokesperson said the airline’s operations since have been relatively smooth.

In July, the carrier’s average daily departures totaled 4,377 compared with 2,009 in April.

Including the 1,500 flight attendants hired in early 2020 before the pandemic, Delta aims to have 3,000 new flight attendants to support operations next summer. It is also hiring 1,200 pilots.

“The need here is to support future flying,” the spokesperson said.

Since May, Delta Air has made full vaccination a condition of employment for new hires. On Tuesday, it reiterated that policy, saying all new hires, including current Delta employees who have been accepted into the training program for flight attendants, must be fully vaccinated before their training start date.

Last week, the company said employees who choose not to be vaccinated will have to pay $200 extra per month for their company-sponsored healthcare plan. read more

Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh
Editing by Peter Graff and Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

New unemployment claims in Washington dipped slightly last week as a rebounding state economy continued to add more jobs.

But that encouraging news comes with a warning from the state’s economist: Thanks to surging COVID-19 cases, the state could see renewed layoffs and a slowdown in recent hiring.

“I’m not expecting a dramatic change, but one that could slow down the pace of job growth from where the state was the last two months,” said Paul Turek, ESD’s state economist.  

Washingtonians filed 5,357 new, or “initial,” claims for unemployment benefits last week, a 3.1% decrease from the prior week, the state Employment Security Department (ESD) reported Thursday. Nationally, new claims rose 1.1% over the prior week, to 353,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.

The state’s job market continued to recover: In July, Washington added 22,700 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 5.1%, from 5.2% in June, the ESD reported on Tuesday. The U.S. unemployment rate for July was 5.4%.

But those encouraging trends are likely to be affected by recent increases of COVID-19 cases from the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus, which has already prompted new government restrictions.

Indeed, although initial claims remain dramatically lower than during the early months of the pandemic, their numbers have crept back up in recent weeks. The 4-week moving average for regular initial claims last week was 5,306, which was up nearly 4% from a week earlier and is 2.1% higher than it was at the same period in 2019, ESD reported.

Turek said those trends might increase moderately if rising case counts result in renewed business restrictions and consumer anxieties that affect hiring. Already, some big employers have delayed plans to bring remote workers back to the office.

“This might, in turn, affect restaurants who might be relying on these workers who would go out to lunch,” Turek said. “There might be less business meetings and travel which could affect the transportation industry.”

“Consumers might also become more reluctant to travel and eat out and delay vacation plans, thereby affecting leisure and hospitality again,” Turek added

He also noted that because the July jobs report uses data from the beginning of the month, “the full impact of the variant” may not be apparent until next month.

That prospect comes as the state’s labor shortage, though perhaps not as severe as earlier this summer, also remains a concern.

The state’s leisure and hospitality sector, which has struggled for months to hire enough workers, added 11,800 jobs in July, according to ESD data.

Demand for workers remains elevated. Postings for new leisure and hospitality jobs, though down modestly from earlier this month, are again surging and were 32% higher than in January 2020, as of Aug. 20, according to data presented by Harvard University’s Economic Tracker. Overall job postings were up 16.8% in Washington.

Some employers have said the labor shortage has been exacerbated by the $300-a-week enhanced federal unemployment benefits, which expire after Labor Day.

In Washington state,

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – “Checking-in” on the hotel industry: Nightly stays are quickly booking up again, and the need for staff is higher than ever. The industry took a huge hit this time last year with the coronavirus outbreak forcing shutdowns and thousands of layoffs.

In sunny tourist destinations such as Arizona, statewide hotel occupancy is at 61.5% for the first half of the year (January-June 2021), which is 15% below the same time period in 2019. The Arizona Office of Tourism also reports that overall hotel occupancy in June 2021 was 65%, which was nearly equal to June 2019 (67%). 

“About 90% of travelers say they have a trip planned in the next six months,” said Becky Blaine, deputy director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “Looking forward to fall and convention bookings, we see that a bunch of the meetings and conventions that have been postponed, moved into the fall, and so we really expect to start to see that business traveler come back as well.”

AMERICANS ARE SPENDING MORE MONEY THAN EVER ON SUPER LUXE VACATIONS

The tourism and hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit. Even with growing demand for vacations, they’re still down 33,500 jobs statewide. 

“We have a workforce issue, a lot of people that were displaced during the pandemic have either chosen to switch industries, or just not come back,” said Blaine. “We’ve really had to work to attract new workers to the hospitality industry that maybe never considered tourism as a career.”

The Arizona Office of Tourism reports that overall hotel occupancy in June 2021 was 65% which was nearly equal to June 2019 (67%) (Stephanie Bennett/Fox News).

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess said it noticed a real turning point in the spring, that’s when the vaccine was made available to everyone and travel restrictions started to loosen. It hosted a large job fair at the end of July to try and hire staff fast. 

“We actually started with 1,200 employees last year, went down to 28, basically overnight. A lot of people went on furlough, so as soon as we could, even starting last summer we started inviting everyone back,” said Christie Martinez, employee relations and retention manager at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

LEISURE TRAVEL IS REBOUNDING BUT HOTEL INDUSTRY HAS A LONG ROAD AHEAD, REPORT SAYS

Around 60 people arrived in the first two hours of the job fair. They even made a few offers on the spot. 

“We actually do have 150 hourly positions open, so some are full time, part time, casual, you name it we’ve got it available. We also have about 20 leadership roles available,” said Martinez. “We are hiring for servers, assistant bartenders, we also have a lot of administrative assistant roles, we’ve got some in our sales department, conference services, spa front desk and reservations.”

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess held a ‘Meet the Team’ mixer in late July to help hire

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids’ Amway Grand Plaza hotel will be bustling with job recruiters Tuesday as several hotels look to rebuild their workforce.

AHC Hospitality is looking for nearly 100 workers, including restaurant and hotel managers, baristas, servers, houskeeping, cooks, a butcher and a massage therapist. The company says with COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns lifted, it needs more workers as business picks up.

The job fair runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday inside Amway Grand Plaza’s first floor Imperial Ballroom. Attendees can park for free at the Amway Grand Plaza or JW Marriott Hotel parking ramps by bringing their parking tickets into the hotel for validation.

AHC Hospitality plans to fast-track hiring at the job fair with on-the-spot interviews that could lead to an immediate job offer and the potential to start work that same week.

More than a dozen jobs listed by AHC Hospitality have remained open for more than a month. The company is hopeful a recent minimum wage hike to $14 an hour will lure new applicants, in addition to health care benefits for full-time workers.

AHC Hospitality is also touting some nontraditional perks, including free employee meals while working, discounted parking downtown and travel discounts at Hilton and Marriott properties.

AHC Hospitality manages six hotels in the downtown Hotel District, including Amway Grand Plaza, JW Marriott Grand Rapids, AC Hotel by Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, Hyatt Place and the dog-friendly Morton Hotel, which opened in March.

Those who cannot attend the job fair can find out more by emailing [email protected] or calling 616.776.6464.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., July 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Arrivia, the Scottsdale-based travel loyalty technology company that helps businesses deliver more value to their customers through a wide variety of unique and relevant travel content, is holding a job fair on Wednesday, July 21, at the Scottsdale Quarter to hire qualified talent in various sales positions. Arrivia made significant investments in technology, marketing, and leadership during the pandemic designed to accelerate its growth through the recovery, and is seeking growth-minded candidates to fulfill its mission.

“We want to identify ambitious and driven individuals to help expand our sales team and help our customers travel better and experience more,” said Jennifer Strauel, senior vice president of human resources at arrivia. ” We embrace diversity, have a vibrant company culture, and offer progressive benefits that make arrivia a great place to work at any career stage – opportunity awaits you here”.

New hires will not only get to fuel their passion for travel and adventure, but they’ll also have opportunities for earning and growth beyond their initial roles. Arrivia team members are inspiration agents, providing exclusive travel privileges like cruises, flights and vacation packages to the customers and loyalty members of some of the biggest brands in the world. Employment perks include access to exclusive rates on cruises, airfare, resorts, tours, car rentals, dining, and a free resort stay on their first workplace anniversary at arrivia.

Team members working at arrivia’s new headquarters have access to in-office amenities that include an in-office gym and massage area, destination-themed collaboration spaces, and an outdoor patio. The offices are located within Scottsdale Quarter, a vibrant, open-air town center with sought-after restaurants, unique shops, and other entertainment options.

“We have given special thought to the importance of our new facilities at the Scottsdale Quarter because we believe in investing in our team members,” said Mike Nelson, chief executive officer of arrivia. “Knowing that team members are the heartbeat of our organization, we have cultivated a work environment that makes them happy to come to work and inspires them every day.”

Arrivia creates and manages customized programs in 20+ languages and 40+ currencies from 9 global offices with nearly 1,500 employees in the US, Mexico, UK, Portugal, India, and Australia. The company serves more than 55 million consumers worldwide by handling over 3.5 million calls annually.

To learn more about careers at arrivia, visit www.arrivia.com/careers.

About arrivia
Arrivia is a travel technology company that provides travel loyalty, booking and marketing solutions to consumer-facing companies that want to deliver exceptional value to their customers, uncover new revenue streams and drive growth through exciting travel rewards and member benefits. The company’s Travel Privileges platform opens up the world of travel for companies like American Express, USAA and Marriott Vacations Worldwide by offering their customers more value through exclusive pricing and encouraging discovery with relevant and personalized options that inspire travel and consumer loyalty. To learn more

Are you a taco fanatic? McCormick & Company announced this week it is hiring for a new position: Director of Taco Relations. The position will be the first of its kind for the food company.

Applicants must be 21 years or older and a resident of the U.S., with a valid driver’s license, among other requirements.

The position runs September through December and pays $25,000 a month, for a total of $100,000. The Director of Taco Relations will also recieve a supply of McCormick taco seasoning and other McCormick products.

It is a part-time position that requires 20 hours of remote work a week. Around 10% of the job will require travel to in-person meetings, including visiting other taco locations in the U.S., traveling to McCormick’s headquarters in Hunt Valley, Maryland, meeting with team members and participating in taco eating sessions.

While no prior experience is necessary and McCormick is open to all experience levels, the company is looking for someone with a strong teamwork mentality, an interest in all things tacos and a keen eye for storytelling through video and social media.

The position’s responsibilities will include creating recipes, scouring platforms like TikTok for the latest taco trends and bringing other taco enthusiasts together.

To apply for the position, you’ll need to submit a video that highlights your personality and “passion for tacos” in two minutes or less. The company is accepting submissions until Tuesday, July 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

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Oregon’s unemployment rate improved in June — even as the national rate crept back up.

The state and national jobless rates were both the same in May: 5.8%. But in June, the U.S. unemployment rate crept up to 5.9%, while Oregon’s went down to 5.6%. The state’s improvement continues a trend that started in the beginning of 2021 in Oregon, when it was as high as 6.2%.

“Oregon has added back 64% of the jobs that were lost in spring 2020, compared with 70% for the U. S.,” said employment economist Gail Krumenauer with the Oregon Employment Department. “While that leaves a big gap to get back to pre-pandemic levels, hiring is happening quickly so far in 2021.”

Krumenauer said the state has added 57,000 jobs this year, but the pace of hiring slowed down a little in June. State employment officials point out that employers had been adding an average of 10,000 jobs per month since the beginning of 2021, but in June that shrank to about 7,500 additional jobs in the state.

State employment officials have been nudging people who’ve been relying on unemployment benefits in recent months to get back to work. They’ve re-established an emphasis on people searching for work by requiring participation in the state’s iMatchskills program.

The health care and social assistance sector was responsible for the greatest share of June job gains in Oregon, with 2,400 jobs created. But economic gains continue to be uneven across other sectors.

Employment officials note that some parts of the economy have bigger payrolls now than they did before the pandemic. Transportation and warehousing, state government and the “professional and technical services” sectors have all grown to employ slightly more workers than before the pandemic.

But the recovery is far from complete. Several big pieces of the Oregon economy continue to employ significantly fewer workers than they did before the pandemic. Leisure and hospitality is 22% below pre-pandemic employment levels, several facets of manufacturing are down double-digits from late 2019, and local government payrolls are down 9%.

And while some employers have said they’re having trouble finding workers, state employment officials noted that many out-of-work Oregonians have been in this situation for more than a year. The agency’s June count of the long-term unemployed found 40,000 people who’d been out of work for a year or more. Agency officials say that’s five times more than the average over the three years before the pandemic.