Local News

Positive signs come from local job market

As the slow summer season approaches, an upturn in the number of finance, clerical and truck driver job openings indicates a boost for the local business climate, according to the local career center.

The job market typically sees a downturn during the summer and hits a low point in August, said Career Source Heartland Chief Information Officer Alan Grimes. "With agriculture done for the season and the snowbirds going north, there is not a lot of hiring that goes on."

But Grimes did have a couple positive trends to report.

"As businesses slowly recover, we are seeing some of the accounting and finance positions and clerical positions coming up quite frequently, which is a good sign after years of not seeing that," he said. "I think it is probably just a spring trend as businesses start to feel a little more confident and they realize that they need to put some more staff on just to maintain what they have going." He is not sure if it will be a long-term trend that will continue throughout the summer.

Many local businesses have fewer than 10 employees, so when business starts to pick up it is very noticeable compared to a slow period, and they just can't put off adding to their staff, he explained.

Though business slows during the summer with snowbirds gone, there are a number openings in the restaurant and retail sector.

Eighteen East Restaurant and Bar owner David Ailstock said due to a variety reasons he will be hiring four to five employees.

"We have had some leave; some going to summer school; we are busy, which is a good thing," he said. He has two or three openings in the "front of the house" and least two openings in the "back of the house."

He usually has a total of 10 employees, but he is trying to give them a break and some time off, Ailstock said. "We are open six days a week so they were working six days a week and working more hours than they are used to."

A check of www.employflorida.com shows recent multiple job openings in Highlands County for Dollar General, Sears, Home Depot and McDonald's.

The state job listing also shows openings in Avon Park for a multiple launch rocket fire direction specialist and multiple launch rocket crew member with the Army National Guard.

U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Jeremy Warner said the openings are for new soldiers coming into the National Guard. Military training will be provided for the position. The rocket launchers, which are used for shooting ground targets, are located at the Avon Park Air Force Range.

Currently there are numerous job listings in healthcare.

Grimes said there are always openings in healthcare.

"If you are an RN [registered nurse] you can write your own paycheck these days," he said.

Generally, with the tight job market, people have been staying put in their current job, Grimes said. "If they had a job, they were afraid to leave their job and they are not really looking. I am starting to see a little more of that churn, but not that much."


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