SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A Shreveport staffing agency is open for business, helping people find a fresh start.
Unemployment numbers in Louisiana are tremendously high following government-mandated closures of businesses to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, more than 400,000 people received a portion of more than $1 billion in benefits since the pandemic hit mid-March.
Before the pandemic, the walk-in waiting room at Jean Simpson Personnel Services was constantly full of job applicants. Now, jobs are out there, but demand is down.
“Where I used to interview from five, six, seven people a day, I might see two,” said Julie Vines who is a placement specialist for industrial jobs. “We are seeing applicants, but not as many.”
Vines and other placement specialists want to connect people with their dream jobs, but the uncertainty in the current post-coronavirus climate can be unsettling.
“I think there are some folks that are scared right now. To get out there and go to work,” she said.
Right now, Jean Simpson has about 50 positions open on the industrial side, and more than 40 clerical and call center jobs they’re trying to fill.
“A lot of your customer service candidates know that they are people-forward,” said Alicia Woodard, clerical placement specialist. “And are they ready to be back in the face of people?”
They said another question people seem to be asking is, “Is it worth it to work?”
“We’ve got to get these people to work,” said Jean Simpson Personnel Services President/Owner Sandra Braddock. “But, it’s hard to get them to work when they can make more staying home with the unemployment right now.”
The current staffing situation is unlike any other, including recessions and mass industry moves, Braddock’s seen in her 43 years in the business.
“Where you have companies that have stopped,” said Braddock. “Employees that have been let go and don’t have jobs.”
Jean Simpson works with about 200 local companies to fill their workforces. The bulk of those are in manufacturing and with the assembly lines stopped, that’s cut the locally-owned staffing service’s business by about 50 percent.
“Without small business and manufacturing business, we’re not going to get this country up and going again the way it needs to be,” said Braddock.
And the team at Jean Simpson is working to get the community back to work.
“Most of our employees are not extra floating people,” said Woodard. “They are vital to the lifeblood of those companies and just because they went through an agency doesn’t make them any less so.”
They’re currently assisting job-seekers by appointment only. Open positions range from entry-level to skilled.