Philadelphia Employment News
WASHINGTON – In late March, Britney Ruby Miller, co-owner of a small chain of steakhouse restaurants, confidently proclaimed that once the viral outbreak had subsided, her company planned to recall all its laid-off workers.
Now? Miller would be thrilled to restore, by year’s end, three-quarters of the roughly 600 workers her company had to let go.
“I’m being realistic,” she said. “Bringing back 75% of our staff would be incredible.”
Call it realism or pessimism, but more employers are coming to a reluctant conclusion: Many of the employees they’ve had to lay off in the face of the coronavirus pandemic might not be returning to their old jobs anytime soon. Some large companies won’t have enough customers to justify it. And some small businesses won’t likely survive at all despite aid provided by the federal government.
If so, that would undercut a glimmer of hope in the brutal April jobs report the government issued Friday, in which a record-shattering 20.5 million people lost jobs: A sizable majority of the jobless — nearly 80% — characterized their loss as only temporary.
That could still turn out to be the case for some. The federal government may end up allocating significantly more financial aid for people and small businesses. And more testing for the coronavirus, not to mention an eventual vaccine or an effective drug therapy, would make more Americans comfortable returning to the restaurants, shops, airports and movie theaters they used to frequent. That, in turn, would lead companies to recall more laid-off workers.
Yet Congress remains sharply divided about additional aid, with some Republicans expressing concern about escalating federal debt. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that “many people would like to just pause for a moment” to evaluate the impact of the government’s $2 trillion relief package approved in late March.
If most layoffs become permanent, the severe recession the economy has slid into would likely last longer, the recovery would be slower and the toll on laid-off workers would be harsher, economists say. Unemployment soared to 14.7% in April — the highest rate since the Great Depression — and analysts predict it will rise still further in May. It could remain in double-digits into next year.
“For a lot of those furloughed workers, a non-trivial number will have no job to go back to, because the company they worked for will have failed or will need fewer workers than they used to,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist who is now director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Philly resident Cassie Jones worked as a part-time manager at Painting With a Twist in Center City, a popular destination for parties and girls nights out where patrons can learn to paint while sipping wine. She also had a part-time job as a special events coordinator for Warehouse on Watts, an event space in West Poplar.
In March, she was furloughed from both jobs. But unlike most furloughed workers, she has no plans to go back once the pandemic is over.
“I’ve actually made more money now outside of my normal jobs,” she said, “and I get to stay home with my dogs who are so happy.”
That’s because ever since Jones was let go from her jobs, she made a point to try to make ends meet financially by working on her art. Jones, a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, has been making facemasks, digital drawings, decorative eggs, patch art and sticker art. She’s been selling a lot of it on her Etsy page, but not all of it.
Philadelphia’s transportation industry is experiencing strong job growth. Local employers posted 160 new jobs over the past week and 600 in the last month, ranking fourth among local industries, according to ZipRecruiter, a leading online employment marketplace.
The transportation industry also came in fourth in terms of local employers adding new jobs. In the past month, 174 companies listed open jobs for Philadelphia-based workers in that area.
Top companies hiring locally in transportation include American Trucking Group USA, LLC, Honor Foods and goPuff.
Philadelphia is seeing strong demand for managers’ skills. Employers in the industry posted 236 new jobs over the past week, and 964 in the last month, more than for any other job category in the area, according to ZipRecruiter, a leading online employment marketplace.
Top companies seeking local managers include goPuff, The Jonus Group, LLC and J Harlan Group, LLC.
Jobs posted by goPuff in the past month in the area also included store managers, drivers and product managers, while The Jonus Group, LLC was hiring accountants and customer service representatives, and J Harlan Group, LLC sought software engineers.
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