Greater Springfield Job Postings, Hirings Slow Significantly For Second Consecutive Month
The unemployment rate in the Greater Springfield area held steady in May for the second straight month at 6.8%, down from the 8.2% jobless rate for the same month last year. However, the number of job openings and hirings for the same period dropped significantly. According to FutureWorks, a career center that helps people in Hampden County find jobs, hiring activity last month declined by 43% from May 2011. It was the second straight month of a significant drop-off in job postings.
“Everything is pretty much down across the board.”
Kevin Lynn is FutureWorks' business manager. He says Europe's financial crisis may be to blame. With more than a fifth of U.S. exports headed for the European market, Lynn says he's been hearing from more employers who are nervous about the ongoing developments there. He says employers don't want to go through the financial and psychological commitment of posting jobs and hiring people, only to turn around and lay them off.
“They are doing business, I guess, but instead of focusing on now, they're sort of focusing on the future. You know, they're trying to look into the crystal ball and make a prediction. And that view is kind of murky, I think, for a lot of people who are looking to possibly hire.”
There is some good news. The average wage at hire in May was up 13 cents to $13.30 an hour. Lynn says there were also fewer unemployed people coming to the center seeking jobs. But there continues to be what he calls a skills gap disconnect. Lynn says there are sectors like health care and precision manufacturing that do have job openings, but are unable to find qualified workers to fill them.
“It seems that the layoffs part of this recession has abated. Really the issue right now is trying to give people who are in that available labor pool the opportunity to get the skills they need to compete for the jobs that are being posted.”