GLENDALE, AZ — For the first time in four months, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits nationwide has dropped.
The latest numbers that came in Thursday show 326,000 new applications.
That’s down 38,000 from the week before and a much lower number than experts predicted.
However, business owners and hiring managers in Arizona are still having a hard time filling open positions.
Dozens of those managers were at State Farm Stadium Thursday participating in the "Jobertising" Job Fair.
They said the challenge of finding people who want to work has forced them to get creative in their recruiting efforts.
“It’s been very difficult. Very very difficult. We’ve had to recruit in ways we had not anticipated, we’ve had to pull out all the stops,” said Holsum Bakery HR Director Nichole de Parra. And she’s certainly not alone.
Paula Carson is looking for people to work with special needs kids and said these tough-to-fill positions have been even harder to staff during the pandemic. “I don’t think it’s qualified people, we’re not getting hits. We were on Indeed and there were not a lot of hits. People weren’t looking for work.”
Jobertising executives tell us these job fairs are slowly coming back and attendance of both business and job seekers is increasing. But even though more people are coming back into the workforce, it’s still fewer than expected.
“In Arizona, especially in Phoenix alone, there are thousands of open jobs right now so you’d expect to see more people at the job fairs. We are seeing more people, but I would expect to see more,” said Jobertising executive Roberto Moreno. He said the staffing challenges pre- and post-COVID could hardly be more different.
“The frustration pre-COVID was, there were plenty of workers out there they just couldn’t find qualified people. Now the challenge is two-fold for recruiters… finding people who are qualified. And finding people,” Moreno said.
He and several managers spoke to ABC15 and said more people feel safe at job fairs that are held in big venues like State Farm Stadium and are encouraged by that increase. But until these businesses are fully staffed, these managers will have no choice but to continue going out of their way to recruit. So keep your eye out for people like Paula. “I’m going everywhere and talking to everyone just to see if I can get one person.”
Click here to see our updated list of companies hiring across the Valley.