Coronavirus: Some companies in Clark, Champaign looking to fill jobs

Some companies in the Clark and Champaign counties are still looking for additional workers despite the coronavirus pandemic leading to a record number of unemployment filings across the state.

Ohio has seen a total of 468,414 unemployment claims being made in the last two weeks of March. However, more than 21,000 job openings have been posted on the state's site as of Friday afternoon as some companies that offer essential services or products are still in need of workers.

Some of those openings are in both Clark and Champaign counties, which has a number of businesses that are considered essential under the current stay-at-home order implemented by Gov. Mike DeWine. Those openings include skilled labor positions for manufacturers in the area that are still receiving orders amid the pandemic, as well as companies dealing in food production that have seen an increase in demand for their products.

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In addition, several major retailers in the area are in need of workers during store hours as well as those that stock shelves and clean during off hours. Those businesses have tweaked their daily operations as well as operating hours in accordance with state guidelines.

For some retailers, changes made as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have led to the cutting of hours and reductions in staff, said Alex Dietz, the economic development coordinator for Clark County.

That county saw a 2,746% jump in jobless claims between the week ending on March 14 and the week ending on March 21. While Champaign County saw an increase of 1,657% between those two weeks, according to analysis by Policy Matters Ohio.

“For some businesses, they have never been busier. While others have had to temporarily shut their doors. It is not affecting everyone the same,” Dietz said.

Some businesses, especially those that sell grocery items, have seen a higher demand for employees as the pandemic as well as resulting state guidelines have increased the demand for their services, Dietz added. In some cases, those businesses have sped up the hiring process in order to keep up with the current demand.

Some of those retailers include national chains such as Walmart, Meijer, CVS and Aldi. Those that focus mostly on hardware, including Lowe’s, in the area have also posted job openings. Listings vary from anywhere from cashiers to warehouse positions, depending on the company, according to the state’s job search site.

In addition, there has also been a demand for delivery drivers, not only for fast food restaurants, but for online retailers such as Amazon as well as traditional brick-and-motor stores, said Virginia Martycz, the director for Clark County Job and Family Services.

“They are trying to fill the gaps in for people who are not going out because of (the pandemic),” Martycz added.

Though her agency has suspended holding job fairs and hosting job interviews for area companies, they are still in contact with businesses that are hiring as well as forwarding resumes. That includes 35 resumes last week that resulted in three placing, Martycz said.

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She said it is up to the individual companies on how they handle the hiring process amid the ongoing pandemic. However, companies that spoke with the News-Sun, mentioned a greater focus on phone interviews or video conferences, as well as social distancing practices during in-person meetings with potential candidates.

However, its just not retailers in the area that are looking to hire.

Assurant, that assists with insurance claims, is looking to hire several hundred employees to join their Global Housing group in Springfield as well as at two other locations. Those positions include Customer Care and Processing Specialist to support customers through the upcoming tornado and hurricane seasons, said David Blumenthal, a spokesperson for the company.

Newly hired employees will be asked to work remotely for the time being, but will be moved into the office at a future time, Blumenthal added, noting that all interviews and training will be done virtually.

Some manufacturers have seen the demand for workers, especially those with a skilled trade, stay the same despite other companies temporarily ceasing their production.

“We have a lot of companies in the area that simply cannot stop their services,” said Amy Donahoe, director of Workforce Development with the Chamber of Greater Springfield. She added that is especially true for companies that deal with food production or manufactures that have certain government contracts.

“Before we knew anything about (the coronavirus.) We still had many businesses that were in need of workers. Talent was at a premium and still is,” Donahoe said.

Though some listings are temporary, others are looking for permanent workers, especially those that need skilled laborers, according to a list of local openings recently posted on the chamber's website,

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For some employers, it includes positions that have been open before the pandemic and still need to be filled as orders have not stopped. Some companies have had difficulties filling certain positions for a few of years due to a shortage in qualified candidates, said Don Clouser the Vice President and General Manager for Champion GSE, part of the Champion Companies that has four locations in Springfield.

Sheri DeWine, a Human Resources Manager for Champion said her company currently has 12 positions available that range from welders and press operators to sales positions.

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