Primary issue for local employers right now is growth of the workforce
Workforce development has been a buzz phrase in economic development circles for the last several years. Skillsets are important to employers, but the reality of the current job market is that the number of workers in the Rome, Floyd County and Northwest Georgia community has to be increased.
At the end of June, the Georgia Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate in Floyd County was 4.2%. The state also reported that 41,826 Floyd County residents were employed somewhere, not necessarily inside Floyd County. Another 1,821 were unemployed and actively seeking a job.
Job postings on the Rome Floyd Chamber website totaled 149 on Tuesday of this past week. The Department of Labor said there were 892 job listings in Floyd County on its EmployGeorgia.com site. Based on the data available at the end of June, if all of those jobs were filled by Floyd County residents who are in the job market, the unemployment rate would dip to a historic low of 2.1%.
When recruiting new industry, Rome-Floyd County Development Authority President Missy Kendrick usually quotes potential workforce numbers that include residents of contiguous counties, some even further away. Some companies anticipate being able to attract workers who live as much as an hour’s drive away from the plant site.
“If you go 60 minutes out, our labor force is about 2 million, so that’s the draw area,” Kendrick said.
More than 17,400 people who work in Rome and Floyd County actually commute from outside the county. Conversely, more than 19,900 Rome and Floyd County residents work outside of the county.
Existing industries that are seeking to expand have a real challenge competing for new employees with other existing industries who may also be expanding.
“All it takes is for them to increase their wages by a little bit and then (others) could potentially lose employees because of it,” Kendrick said.
Given current labor market conditions, existing companies are also concerned about the potential for a new company to come into town with a couple hundred higher paying jobs and lure some of their workforce away.
The Rome Floyd Chamber’s Greater Rome Existing Industries Association will be hosting a job fair on Wednesday, Aug. 18, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Georgia Northwestern Technical College conference center.
Pam Powers-Smith is director of business and industry services at the chamber. She said GREIA leaders decided to wait until mid-August to allow people who may have been out of the workforce since the pandemic took hold to do the math after their federal unemployment supplement checks were cut off. At least 10 industries are already registered to be on hand for the job fair and she expects that number to go higher.
“If it draws more people then I think it will be a good indication that people are finally looking again,” Powers-Smith said.
F&P Georgia, a local automotive industry supplier, has set up a tent in a vacant lot on North Broad Street to try to sign up new employees. It seems to be working. Tina Roberson, who was working the tent with Jimmy Beard, said Wednesday the company had found close to 20 employees who learned about the jobs driving by the tent.
Powers-Smith attended a special workforce data meeting at the Georgia Power Economic Development facility in Atlanta a week and a half ago. She returned with all kinds of information to help communities connect people with jobs.
The Georgia Power data was developed by EMSI, Economic Modeling Specialists International.
One of the statistics that jumps out of the report is that the largest Floyd County demographic when it comes to unemployment are those in the 25 to 34 age group. Those millennials accounted for 27.5% of the unemployment in Floyd County near the end of June. Those in the 35 to 44 bracket follow closely behind, at 21.9% of those who are out of a job.
Among the unemployed locally at the end of the June, 56% were women and 43.5% were Black.
Powers-Smith said a lot of the manufacturers she works with are trying to do programming to attract more women to the field.
“Really, to solve that, we need to go all the way back to the college and career academies to teach the girls while they are young that they can be engineers,” she said. “We’ve got to take them to the companies and let them see the work with their own eyes.”
The top employers in Floyd County last month were Floyd Healthcare Management, Berry College, Harbin Clinic, Rome City Schools, Floyd County and Redmond Regional Medical Center.
Ironically, Floyd Healthcare Management was also at the top of the list of employers with active job postings. Redmond Regional, PruittHealth and Walmart also made the local list.
Community leaders have placed a lot of emphasis on quality-of-life issues in recent years in an effort to retain some of the young talent that is graduating from the local high schools and colleges.
Wright Edge, a member of the staff at the Floyd County Schools College and Career Academy, said a number of local industries have been extremely helpful in assisting with curriculum development to meet their specific employment needs.
Local industries also have played a major role in the development of career pathways at the Rome academy, said Misty Tucker, associate principal at Rome High and director of the Rome College and Career Academy.
“We did a lot of research with the Department of Labor and looked across Rome and Northwest Georgia — not only at high-demand jobs, but high-wage jobs,” Tucker said.
She added that the academy continually evaluates the regional job market because the needs will always be changing and the CCA wants to be in a position to be able to respond and help meet the needs.
Original article can be found: https://www.northwestgeorgianews.com/rome/business/primary-issue-for-local-employers-right-now-is-growth-of-the-workforce/article_fd5fb35e-eee6-11eb-b417-77abebfb6546.html