Southwest Virginia employers continue struggling to hire workers even as more job openings become available

Local News

(WFXR) — There are thousands of job openings in and around southwest Virginia, but employers are having trouble filling those positions.

Since the pandemic began, many people have left their jobs for various reasons — some cite COVID-19 concerns while others are transitioning to new career opportunities.

Business and outreach coordinator Tim Saunders of Virginia Career Works says the issue is happening all around the Commonwealth.

“Every area of the state is in tough competition for workers,” said Saunders.

Saunders attributes the challenge to employers creating different incentives for people to work at their company.

“Employers are raising wages across the board,” said Saunders. “We’ve looked at data recently that shows that wages have increased pretty substantially since the beginning of this year. That’s an indication that employers are trying to be more competitive in an effort to attract and retain workers.”

Gov. Ralph Northam recently announced that a new manufacturing operation is coming to Wythe County, which will help create 2,500 new jobs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wythe County alone has lost 201 workers since the pandemic started. There will be more jobs, but the pool of available workers will be smaller.

George Lemon, who owns the Pita Pit restaurant in downtown Roanoke, says he has struggled at times to find workers, but he has some advice for hiring managers.

“Be patient,” said Lemon. “Another thing is, if you have somebody who works well with your organization, I would find a way to keep them on board. Whether that’s paying them more or offering vacation…do whatever you can do financially to help them out.”

Saunders says he believes jobs can be filled if employers raise wages and create good working environments for people coming on.

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