WASHINGTON — Unemployment hit some record highs in the DMV area during the height of the pandemic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, D.C. is at 7.8% down from 8.9% last year, Maryland is at 6.2% down from 9% last year, and Virginia is at 5.1% down from 11.3% this time last year.
We’ve seen businesses all around the region close their doors, some for good. Some other businesses that have been able to stay open said they’ve been having a hard time getting people to work. But companies are hoping to change that – by holding National Hiring Day ahead of the summer months.
“I'm looking to hire 10 to 12 people,” Victoria Lai, owner of Ice Cream Jubilee said.
Similar story for Matt Baker, owner of Gravitas.
“We're looking to put people back to work. So, we're hiring, really for every position in the restaurant currently,” Baker said.
Even the pest control industry is searching for more people to join their team.
“We are always hiring,” Kristin Morton, Lambright Pest Control said.
“We're looking to add about 920 associates,” Kristie Wooddell, Area HR Business Partner with Lowes said.
Those are just some of the hiring managers who are looking to get people on staff. Lai said she understands the reservations some may have with returning to this line of work.
“I think that a lot of people have gotten us to a sort of 'Zoom' lifestyle. So, the idea of coming in and being a part of a community of servers is a little bit of a stretch of where they are,” Lai added.
The restaurants and bars have been one of the hardest-hit industries, according to Diane Gross of Cork Wine Bar and Market.
“Well, I wouldn't suggest owning a restaurant during a pandemic. Our sales have been down about 75%. So it's been pretty significant,” Gross said.
She had to lay off two-thirds of her staff but is now looking to hire. Gross and Baker of Gravitas believe the restaurant industry has changed forever.
“A lot of people have left the industry,” Gross said.
“You're not returning to the normal workforce that you remember,” Baker added.
The theme continues in industries where employees will have to work directly with people.
“I guess they're thinking about the face to face contact they're going to be having going to the customers’ homes,” Morton said.
Home improvement projects have spiked with everyone spending more time at home; which was good news for Lowe’s. They added some 90,000 jobs last year and are looking to hire even more people.
“They just need to come to a store, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. There's no need to actually apply online prior to coming,” Wooddell said.