The unemployment rate for the Yuba-Sutter area increased by nearly seven percentage points in April compared to the month prior -- largely due to the impacts of COVID-19.
But local experts say employment opportunities are on the rise.
Brynda Stranix, COO and president of the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation, said some of the area’s greatest needs are in the retail, restaurant and service industries. The problem is that business owners and job centers are experiencing difficulties filling those positions or even getting former employees to return to work.
“We’ve been hearing from some of our local businesses that a fair number of their employees are unwilling to come back,” Stranix said. “They have opportunities available for them but many believe it’s because of the amount of unemployment benefits they are receiving. Folks are making more money staying home than coming to work, so it has put some hardships on some of our businesses.”
With the passing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the federal government increased the amount of unemployment benefits an individual can receive — those eligible for unemployment benefits receive an extra $600 weekly benefit. The additional benefit is supposed to last through July 31, though Stranix said there is the potential it could get extended through the end of the year.
“I think as long as the federal government is smart about handling this additional unemployment stipend and we keep our (COVID-19) numbers low and continue to open up on a broader scale, I think we are going to be OK,” Stranix said.
Caron Job, director of the Yuba County One Stop, said her team is still receiving job orders regularly from local businesses in need of workers, but they are struggling to place people into those jobs.
“In my opinion, it has a lot to do with people being laid off and people receiving unemployment as well as an extra stipend from the government,” Job said. “People maybe aren’t looking to go back to work just yet or anticipate they will be going back to the jobs they had once businesses start to reopen.”
The Yuba County One Stop has held hiring events on social media to help get the word out on available jobs. They’ve also received some grants to retrain people to help them get back to work.
“We have received an array of job orders from our local employers from the service and ag industry over the past couple of weeks,” Job said. “If you are a Yuba County resident who is unemployed or underemployed and looking for employment or training opportunities, please call (530) 749-4850. We are here to assist you.”
With facilities closed to the public at the moment, job centers have gotten creative in getting the message out to the public. Rinky Basi, director of the Sutter County One Stop, said her staff had to basically learn overnight how to connect people remotely with employers who were still hiring. They’ve been developing ways to do that and notifying the public through social media.
“We have a real good variety of job orders running right now, so there is quite a bit of hiring,” Basi said. “We have landscape positions, clerical, ag, lots of production work and administrative jobs.”
Her team has also experienced difficulty in filling some of those positions, particularly because the applicant pool is limited and those that submit applications aren’t always qualified for the job.
“I encourage everyone to continue shopping local,” Stranix said. “I’m looking forward to when we can all get back to work.”