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Experts say uncertainty with coronavirus to blame for slow hiring in Tenn.

Posted at 9:32 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 22:57:42-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The uncertainty behind coronavirus is why local economists say business owners need more time to feel comfortable about hiring. What that means for job seekers is you may be in for a wait.

When she first began her job search, Diane Glover was told to apply for what she knew. She had just been let go from her job as a part-time office manager but figured it was only a matter of time before those jobs came back.

It’s been five months without steady employment and she’s now at the point of applying for any and every job she can find on the Jobs4TN website. Knowing the job search is now a requirement for claiming unemployment benefits, it’s not like Glover could stop. One problem she faces is that most jobs expect her to make the rather long commute from her home in Tracy City, Tennessee.

“I did apply for a CDL job, a truck driving job and I did apply to be a nurse, but of course I didn’t qualify for those either,” Glover said.

The jobs available don’t match her skills and vice versa. It would be easier if office work were more available, but for now, she says she’s stuck with low-paying jobs at odd hours.

“It’s just kind of hard to justify going to work and getting ready to go to work for $7 an hour. I know people get angry when you say that, but you’re doing shift work. Then you don’t know what shift you’re going to be put on. So I guess at my age, I’m just not interested in working the midnight shift,” Glover said.

For Glover, it’s a question of do you take what you can get now or wait for what you already know you’re capable of?

Lipscomb University professor Andy Borchers is an economist who says it may be more beneficial for people who have been waiting to consider learning new skills suited for the jobs in demand.

He says a common misconception is that a new vaccine and easing restrictions would motivate business owners to hire back the old jobs. It’s a risk and at this point, it’s one he doesn’t see many business owners taking.

“Employers are reluctant to make commitments because there’s some uncertainty,” Borchers said.

After the back-and-forth of opening and closing their doors in 2020, Borchers says many businesses would rather wait for a more viable long term solution. That’s not to say that there aren’t jobs available.

The Jobs4TN website boasts nearly 250,000 current openings ranging in skill level and pay. Around the country, experts predict we added more than 50,000 jobs in January.

“Some call it a “K” economy where some branches are going up and some going down,” Borchers said.

Borchers says some businesses where you can better socially distance yourself are doing well, while others in hospitality, retail, and entertainment are not.

“The hospitality and entertainment sectors, they’ll take off when they can do so safely. Until they can do so safely, it’s going to be slow,” Borchers said.

The US Department of Labor will release their monthly jobs report Friday morning. Experts are once again expecting the country’s unemployment rate to stay at 6.7 percent as it has since November. In Tennessee, the current unemployment rate is just below that at 6.4 percent.