The agency that usually helps other employers find workers now has to fill nine vacancies

FREMONT – The Sandusky County Department of Employment and Family Services is often responsible for helping employers fill vacancies at job fairs. Now the local agency needs a job fair itself as it seeks to fill several vacancies.

And on June 4, those looking for jobs in fields such as children’s services, benefit eligibility and workforce development have plenty of opportunities, according to Melanie Allen, director of the county employment and family service agency.

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Allen said his office was down about 10%, with around nine vacancies out of his normal workforce of 91 jobs.

The agency usually organizes recruiting events for other employers

“One of the things we talked about was doing what we do for other employers, which is having a hiring event,” Allen said.

And from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 4 at their offices, 2511 Countryside Drive, the agency will be accepting applications and doing short interviews for vacant positions.

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Employment and family service workers locally and across the country have high turnover due to stress and trauma in normal times, not to mention a pandemic, and Allen said that it was difficult to get people to introduce themselves.

“We’ve had a lot of no-call shows for interviews. I’ve never seen this before,” Allen said. “And a lot of cancellations.”

As COVID-19 numbers continue to drop and the state has announced it will stop paying an additional $ 300 per week in federal unemployment benefits next month, Allen said the office has seen a steady increase the number of people without an appointment looking for a job in general.

And with more than 2,900 jobs within a 20 mile radius of Fremont, Allen said there are plenty of job options for residents.

Aside from additional federal unemployment benefits that cause some people to stop looking for work, Allen said the competition to bring new workers into their offices has presented challenges.

People looking for a job are in a good position

Referring to Cedar Point’s announcement that it is now offering $ 20 an hour for seasonal staff and $ 500 signing bonuses, as well as other businesses such as Arby’s in Clyde offering signing bonuses of $ 1,000, Allen said the additional benefits for jobs in the area made it difficult for her. office to find workers.

Because of these options, Allen said the job market has become an “employee world” where potential employees hold the lion’s share of power.

“They can choose where they want to work because there are so many vacancies and there are perks and perks,” Allen said. “Being a social worker for children is a very difficult job.”

And Allen said many counties in Ohio are experiencing a shortage of social workers.

The number of cases has remained stable, despite more mental health and addiction issues during the pandemic.

The cases are more serious

Allen said that while the number of cases has not increased, there have been much more serious cases that have resulted in children being placed either in foster families or in the county kinship program where children in foster care are placed with family members.

“A lot of people self-medicate with drugs. We were already in the throes of an opioid epidemic and then we went through another epidemic on top of that,” Allen said of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are seeing less heroin use, but a slight increase in methamphetamine use.”

Allen said methamphetamine has become a drug of choice because it causes fewer overdoses compared to fentanyl or trafficked heroin and other opioids.

The shortage of social workers and an already heavy workload have put even more pressure on a profession often traumatized by some of the tragedies she sees at home in her own neighborhood.

“We’re doing more overtime than we’re used to and it’s a lot asking our kids to be out there doing this work,” Allen said.

But there is hope on the horizon as more and more people return to work.

Hope for a returning workforce

Casey Morrow, Workforce Administrator for the Sandusky County Department of Employment and Family Services, said job seekers were slowly returning for face-to-face meetings at Employment Services and to the family.

As of May 23, all Ohio residents who apply for unemployment benefits must respond to work searches that were previously suspended due to the pandemic.

Morrow said eliminating the extra $ 300 per week in unemployment benefits, which expires on June 26, will likely provide more incentive to re-enter the workforce.

“A single person can earn $ 485 a week on unemployment benefits,” Morrow said. “You add that extra $ 300 to that, you’ve now made that paycheck $ 785 a week and there’s only a 10% reduction in federal tax.

For many employers, the extra $ 300 in benefits – which at one point amounted to $ 600 more – excluded many employers from the market as workers could earn as much or more money per week by staying on. home and collecting unemployment.

The work is there, and more and more people are getting vaccinated and can return to the workforce.

More walk-in tours in JFS

In the first three weeks of May, Morrow said more than 200 residents came to visit the DJFS Ohio Means Jobs center.

Morrow said that in January, 39 people entered the Ohio Means Jobs center. Then 37 in February before an increase with 168 walk-ins in March and 179 in April.

The belief is that more Ohioans are ready to work and in many cases this trend is at the forefront in Sandusky Count, where the 4.7% unemployment rate aligns closely with normal unemployment numbers. In Ohio, the unemployment rate is 4.9% while the national rate is 6.2%.

Morrow also said there are high paying jobs available in the area, with more than 900 jobs open within a 20 mile radius paying $ 30.00 to $ 49,000 per year.

There are nearly 4,000 jobs that pay $ 50,000 to $ 79,000 annually within a 30 mile radius of Fremont, and over 2,400 jobs within a 30 mile radius of the city that pay $ 80,000 and over.

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Twitter: @CraigShoupNH

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