Job seekers

The Hudson Valley has a market of job seekers, unemployment is falling

Tourism and hospitality have been among the industries hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions.

But as the Mid Hudson Valley approaches its third pandemic summer, it may also be an industry where job seekers can find what they’re looking for.

Melaine Rottkamp, ​​president and CEO of Dutchess Tourism, said employers in hospitality fields have no shortage of vacancies as the region continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

“We need workers for our hotels, restaurants and other businesses, and the unemployment rate is really low right now,” Rottkamp said. “There are not many people available.

A broken ladder: Why Fixing Housing Affordability In Dutchess Is More Than A Town Problem

Education: Newburgh teacher wins $10,000 grant to use innovative translation technology in the classroom

January: In a market of job seekers, here’s how some Dutchess employers are doing

COVID-19 and the “Great Resignation” related to security restrictions and subsequent lifestyle changes, have dramatically changed the employment landscape. More than two years into the pandemic, the local unemployment rate is back to about the level it was at, or below, and employers in the region’s biggest fields, including health and education , hire.

Staff shortages, from office to kitchen work and most jobs in between, persist, making it a job seekers market. While hospitals and nursing facilities are looking for licensed and skilled workers, transportation companies and schools are looking for people with commercial driver’s licenses.

As a result, employers are offering incentives and have had to adjust their expectations around issues such as remote work, as the pandemic has exacerbated barriers that have kept candidates from working, such as a lack of childcare services. affordable children.

Jaime Schmeiser, president and CEO of the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce, said many companies trying to stay competitive are improving their benefits, including better health insurance and better retirement and 401K programs.

“I think we’re headed for a better future, a new normal,” she said.

Although winter is only a few weeks in the rearview mirror, jobs related to outdoor recreation and vacation destinations are now being filled. While some of them are seasonal, like lifeguards or hourly workers at theme and water parks, Rottkamp noted that job seekers sometimes have the “misperception” that the hospitality industry is “not only entry-level and minimum-wage positions.

“You can start as a dishwasher or a tour guide, but you can pursue a long-term career,” she said.

Unemployment rates are falling

The month before pandemic restrictions made employment fluctuate, the unemployment rate in Dutchess County was 3.9%. A year later, in February 2021, it was 6.4%, a disheartening figure that was actually an improvement from the pandemic peak of 14.2% in April 2020. But, February 2022, the most recent month for which the state Department of Labor shared estimates, the rate had fallen to 3.7%, tied with the ninth lowest in New York.

Other central Hudson Valley counties experienced a similar parabolic rise and fall.

Sullivan County last February had the highest unemployment rate in the region, although it was only 4.3%. It was 4.6% in February 2020 and 7.2% in 2021.

Orange in February 2020 was at 4.1%, 6.7% in 2021 and was most recently at 3.9%.

And Ulster ranged 4.1% in 2020, 6.8% in 2021 and 3.9% in February 2022.

Unemployment is a measure of unemployed and actively seeking residents, not just of all those without jobs.

Summer jobs and more

Unemployment rates are also seasonally adjusted, taking into account expected hiring changes such as the holiday shopping season and summer employment. Hospitality jobs are available in vacation spots or seasonal businesses, such as swimming pools and summer camps.

For example, Legoland New York in Goshen is set to open for its first full season, following an abbreviated 2021 season that only started on July 9 due to COVID-19.

“It’s more than just a summer job,” said Matt Besterman, Legoland spokesman.

Christina Shakesnider of Middletown, left, interviews for a position with Legoland during a Legoland hiring event at Legoland New York in Goshen, NY on Monday, January 10, 2022.

While Legoland’s peak time is between Memorial Day and Labor Day, its theme park actually operates from April through December, and its hotel is open year-round.

Legoland has 1,500 employees, known as “model citizens”, and Besterman said they are “casting a wide net” to fill these positions. Legoland has been holding a series of job fairs since January.

And for the employees they’ll need after Labor Day until the park closes in December, they’ll recruit stay-at-home moms, retirees, and people changing careers and looking for a temporary income to fill the gap, between others .

Find help

Many job seekers receive help from agencies like the Dutchess One Stop Career Center. Sharon Chunton from Wappingers Falls is one of their clients.

Chunton was fired in January after working as a long hauler for Carvana for around a year and a half. Chunton, who has had several different jobs — she once worked as an equestrian — approaches the job market with an open mind.

“I have a number of office skills and would consider something in customer service,” she said.

Sharon Churton at her home in Wappingers Falls on March 31, 2022. Churton was made redundant from her car transporter/delivery job in January and has been open to finding work in a new field.

The One Stop Center helped her with a number of tools to tackle this search, including preparing a functional CV.

“II didn’t even know what a working resume was until I came to see them,” she said.

A functional resume is a resume that focuses on your job skills and groups your work experiences under skill categories, as opposed to a traditional chronological list of jobs you’ve held.

Chunton said she’s had a few virtual job interviews but hasn’t landed a job yet.

“It’s been slow so far, but I still have hope,” she said.

Mike Randall is a reporter for the Poughkeepsie Journal, Times Herald-Record and The Journal News. Contact him at [email protected]