Job market offering opportunities, cash bonuses to graduates in Butler County

National fast-food chain Wendy's has immediate job openings and is paying a $250 bonus to new employees. RICK McCRABB/STAFF
National fast-food chain Wendy's has immediate job openings and is paying a $250 bonus to new employees. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

The job market for this spring’s high school and college graduates is now one of high demand according to employment experts and business signage showing employers offering cash bonuses for new hires.

It’s an unprecedented situation brought on in part from state government support payments installed during the shutdown months of the coronavirus pandemic but now fading as elected officials move to rein in unemployment payments they say is contributing to a lack of workers.

Earlier this month state officials announced the end of Ohio’s extra $300 a week unemployment payment will take place June 26 in hope of jolting more back into the workforce.

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And starting Monday, Ohio will reinstate its previous “work search requirement” for those receiving unemployment payments.

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“Now that Ohioans have had the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and can safely return to work, it only makes sense that we restore work-search requirements for everyone,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in statement.

The “pull” to that “push” strategy of getting more workers into the marketplace can be seen by anyone driving through local communities as more businesses have posted never-seen-before signage practically begging job candidates to apply and enticing them with cash bonuses.

Stores, restaurants and industries of all types need more employees.

And that dilemma for businesses is a rare delight for young workers leaving high school or seeking a summer job, said area school counselors.

“The high amount of available jobs in the area for our seniors is providing great opportunities for them,” said Rachel Conley, a counselor for Edgewood High School.

“About 60 percent of our seniors are college bound and those students are looking for summer and part-time employment. Local manufacturers such as (Middletown steel maker) Cleveland Cliffs and Deceuninck (Monroe) are offering these opportunities with higher hourly wage than other traditional options, so students are very interested.”

And, said Conley, the new job market is “a win-win as they (graduates, students) learn employability skills on the job, while being paid.”

Employers added just 266,000 jobs in April, sharply lower than in March and far fewer than economists had expected. With coronavirus cases declining and states and localities easing restrictions, the recovery from the pandemic recession has been so fast that many businesses have been caught flat-footed in the face of surging consumer demand.

Last month’s hiring slowdown appears to reflect a host of factors. Nearly 3 million people nationwide are reluctant to look for work because they fear catching the virus, according to government surveys. More women also dropped out of the workforce last month, likely to care for children, after many of them had returned in the previous two months.

The stakes are high for area businesses.

Earlier this month in Middletown two downtown restaurants, Don’s Pizza and Fast Lane Subs, closed due to the lack of available employees.

As a way to connect potential employees with those in the hospitality business, the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has launched a portal called Hamilton Amusement and Hospitality Association (HAHA), said Dan Bates, president and CEO.

He said those who apply for jobs may have their resumes seen by 60 local businesses. Because of that, Bates said, some “really high-quality candidates” have received more than one job offer, creating a bidding war for their employment.

He said those in the food and beverage industry who want to recruit and retain their employees may have to adjust the work culture and offer flexible work schedules.

“That’s the reality of the situation,” Bates said.

Staff Writers Rick McCrabb and Lynn Hulsey contributed to this story

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