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Valley police, health care, food industries short on help

The pandemic disruption in the job market left some industries changed forever. Recovery means bonuses and new opportunities for those looking for work.

PHOENIX — The economy is starting to bounce back from the pandemic. And for businesses throughout the Valley, that means they need to hire new workers.

Economists say this gives leverage back to job seekers who may find better-paying positions, new bonuses or other perks available in different industries.

Service industry jobs in demand

In April and May, the foodservice industry experienced better-than-expected demand, but many restaurant owners said they struggled to hire enough workers to meet customer needs.  

And it’s not just restaurants.

Health care, social care and child care services are all hiring across the valley.

Among some of the Arizona companies hiring right now include the Arizona Children’s Association and Whiz Kidz Preschool.

“Employers are having to realize that if there’s a shortage of qualified labor in their industry, they have to re-think what’s going to make those positions more attractive,” said Dennis Hoffman, an economist at Arizona State University.

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Employees rethink the types of jobs they want

Hoffman said the current demand for workers means job seekers have the leverage to get paid more or seek a job on their own terms. Recent studies show that many workers are re-thinking the types of jobs they want.

Nearly 87% of people who worked remotely during the pandemic said they would prefer to work remotely at least one day a week, according to a Prudential Financial survey released in April. That same study showed 42% of remote workers said if their current company does not continue to offer remote work options, “they will look for a job at a company that does.”   

One in four respondents said they plan to look for a new job after the pandemic.

“I might be re-assessing, re-training, going back to school again and thinking about going in a different direction,” Hoffman said of new job seekers.

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Employers offer incentives to new hires

The public safety industry, including security companies and policing, have also been hit hard during the last year.

Earlier this week, the Chandler Police Department announced it is offering hiring bonuses to lure new recruits.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said it recently implemented a Detention Officer Employee Referral Incentive Pilot Program in which MCSO employees may receive a monetary referral incentive if they refer an applicant who is hired as a Detention Officer until June 30, 2022.

The health care industry, and nursing in particular, were also hit hard. In the Valley, CVS Health and Abrazo hospitals are also among those hiring.

Hoffman said there are still potential workers who are waiting to re-enter the workforce because they are currently receiving unemployment benefits from the state. Those getting government help must now prove they are actively looking for a job.

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