The deadline for industrial- and distribution-related companies to sign up for the Manufacturing Made Easy Career Fair held at White Hall is fast approaching.
The event's organizer, the Jefferson County Manufacturing Council, opened participation to its members along with nonmembers, and the last day for employers to sign up for this event is Friday.
The Manufacturing Made Easy Career Fair will be held Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the White Hall Community Center, 9801 Dollarway Road. The event is free to the public to attend.
JCMC is a division of the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County, and this is their first career fair event. For JCMC members, participation is free, but the cost for nonmembers is $500.
So far, the following companies are participating in the job fair: Tyson Foods Inc.; Watco Co.; Arkansas Mill Supply Co.; Express Employment Professionals; Central Moloney, Inc.; Highland Pellets; Wheeling Machine Products; Strong Manufacturing Co.; and Good Day Farm.
Their goal is to target prospective employees from Jefferson County and the surrounding area, said Nancy McNew, Alliance vice president.
The reason for hosting the event, she said, "Is in response to members' workforce shortage."
DEMAND FOR EMPLOYEES, PRODUCTS
Employee shortage is being felt in almost all sectors of the workforce and it's a nationwide problem, McNew said. The U.S. recently announced that about 528,000 new jobs were created in the nation in July.
John Lawson, owner of Express Employment Professionals at Pine Bluff, said overall job creation seems to be accelerating. In May, about 390,000 new jobs were created, another 372,000 in June.
Arkansas has seen increased job creation numbers over the spring, with more than 35,000 in June. That, coupled with record low unemployment numbers, averages about 3.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate in the area around Pine Bluff is about 5.8 percent.
Lawson, who has 15 years of industry-related experience, said they used to fill 30-plus jobs a day but that number has dwindled.
"We're now struggling to fill two or three jobs. We're constantly recruiting," Lawson said.
Currently, there are multiple factors impacting the available workforce, he believes. The lingering impact of covid on people returning to the workforce, baby boomers are retiring at a national rate of about 10,000 a day and there are fewer younger adults to fill their place.
With the end of the covid-19 shutdown, people are out in full force, spending more money whether eating in restaurants, ordering online or traveling, and, Lawson said, the employers he works with are reporting "great demand."
In Arkansas, transportation is the fastest growing sector of the state's economy, with nearly 13,000 jobs created over the last year, said Lawson.
The goal is to target people interested in industrial- and distribution-related careers, said McNew.
"These are good jobs with excellent salaries and benefits," McNew said.
McNew said the transportation and distribution targeted career fair is an attempt to connect Jefferson County employers with potential employees from around the area.
For more information about the Manufacturing Made Easy Career Fair, email: email@example.com, or call (870) 535-0110.