The employment fair shows more jobs than workers in Coshocton County
- Ohio Means Jobs of Coshocton County hosted its annual 46-employer employment fair Thursday at the Lake Park Pavilion.
- OMJ routinely has over 200 full-time and part-time positions on-site, with healthcare and manufacturing in need of labor the most.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the workforce, and it has yet to improve as many baby boomers and women choose to stay at home.
- Local employers looking for workers and the positions they have open are a major barrier to finding those with the right skills.
COSHOCTON — Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the employment picture in Coshocton has remained relatively the same — many jobs available but no one to fill them.
Ohio Means Jobs of Coshocton County routinely had more than 200 full-time and part-time positions open on its job board. Those with the most open positions include three of Coshocton’s largest employers in the industrial sector – McWane Ductile, Kraft Heinz and Cleveland Cliffs. Economics coordinator Shannon Stanton said the two sectors taking the most damage are manufacturing and healthcare.
Ohio Means Jobs held a mini job fair at the Coshocton Village Inn and Suites in May, and the annual jobs fair was held Thursday at the Lake Park Pavilion. 46 employers were present.
Administrator Lynn Jacobs said the expo has been going on for about 10 years. Other job fairs were held before that, but it was difficult to find employers to attend. The opposite is now the case, although not unprecedented.
To put it in perspective, Jacobs said that six years ago, about 1,500 people came through their resource center every month. Now it’s less than 100 people a month. However, Jacobs admits that more is now being done with digital resources.
Unemployment in Coshocton County is about 5%, but if you subtract those who are simply not fit for a job because of disabilities, age, and other issues, it’s closer to 2.5% to 3%. Jacobs said that’s as good as it gets. He estimates there are about 600 people in Coshocton who can work who aren’t.
“It’s like a big pendulum. It goes clearly to the left and clearly to the right,” Jacobs said of the swings in the labor market. “We’ll still be busy. If we don’t have people looking for work, then we have companies looking for people.”
Ironically, Stanton said there were more companies that wanted to attend the job fair but couldn’t because they couldn’t spare the staff. Some companies sent information and Ohio Means Jobs accepted applications for these companies to forward.
Current staff picture
Jacobs has repeatedly said that COVID-19 has severely shaken the workforce across the country, not just in Coshocton County, and has yet to rectify. This included many baby boomers opting for early retirement, known as the Great Retirement, and women staying at home to save on childcare costs.
“It was a catalyst for the baby boomers to leave in droves,” Jacobs said of the pandemic. “Women who stayed at home also found out, ‘We spend X dollars on childcare. I am now at home. If we could cut our budget by like 20%, I’ll make that after I pay the bills childcare and stuff like that.’ So the woman also left the workforce.”
Jacobs said the statement about people just not wanting to work was a bit misleading. Sure, there are some who don’t want to work, but this isn’t new and it’s not as many as some think. And while some stopped working during the pandemic due to increases in unemployment benefits, the extra has evaporated.
“These people never want to work. They didn’t want to work before COVID and they don’t want to work after COVID,” Jacobs said. “Eighty percent of people in Coshocton County go to work every day, work 40-plus-a-week, and pay their bills. But these are not the people we are talking about.”
Employers looking for workers
MFM Building Projects Corporation is nearing completion of an $8 million expansion project. Jeff Foster, human resources and safety manager, said they are looking for second- and third-shift production workers. They need between six and 20 employees, depending on how quickly their new production line opens. While factory experience is an advantage, they are willing to pursue further education.
“The problem is that you no longer have employees with years of manufacturing experience. They pretty much stay where they are. So we’re looking for the younger generation to step in and fulfill those crafting needs,” said Foster.
Coshocton Regional Medical Center has 65 open positions ranging from doctors and nurses to domestic help and janitors. Josh Bigrigg of human resources said a big hurdle for her is letting people know there are more opportunities in healthcare than just clinical ones.
He said an event like the employment fair allows them to “connect with the community and try to get more people involved with the hospital and what we offer.”
Coshocton-based Kraft Heinz, which makes all of Oscar Mayer’s bacon for the company, is hiring first- and second-shift production team members with about 60 open positions.
Tia Cramblett, Human Resources Coordinator, said they are in a catch 22 situation. Due to staff shortages, many have to work 60 hours a week to keep the company up to speed with production demands. New hires don’t want to work that many hours, but if they could increase staffing levels, most could only work 40 hours a week.
“We understand that this is a challenge for many families and that is our biggest fight,” Cramblett said.
Sara Warne is Human Resources Manager at PSI Industrial Solutions, an environmental and industrial cleaning company. They are looking for general workers and entry level CDL drivers. She said they don’t have a set number of vacancies because they need new workers as they grow.
“We are always looking for good candidates. Reliability is crucial for us. If we’re late for a customer, we could end up losing that customer,” Warne said. “We are a small working family and each individual is part of the heartbeat of the company.”
Leonard Hayhurst is a community content coordinator and general news reporter for the Coshocton Tribune with nearly 15 years of local journalism experience and multiple Ohio Associated Press awards. He can be reached at 740-295-3417 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @llhayhurst.