Despite 250k jobs, Tennessee employers struggle to find workers

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Tennessee is reporting around 250,000 jobs available right now, with about 500 new postings being added every day.

The problem is, not enough people are taking them.

“Jobs that we had before COVID are not coming back. And so you’ve got
a whole host of individuals who are working and relient on jobs that
are now faced with having to make a career change, having to retrain,” says Molly Blankenship with the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.

But on a local level, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger says
unemployment is 4 percent, which is lower than the national average.

“It’s our responsibility to try to create jobs, bring back businesses
here. We’ve had a lot of success in doing that and we look forward to
continuing with that success, but what these businesses need and look
for is a workforce,” says Mayor Coppinger.

The reasons behind the worker shortage are complex and wide ranging.
Coppinger pointed out a drop in female participants in the workforce
since the start of the pandemic.

“I think we’re seeing a reduction there because they don’t know, the
uncertainty they have with childcare as it relates to schools and some
other things,” he says.

The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce tells me that employers are having
to get creative with attracting new talent, with several initiatives
underway right here in Chattanooga.

“We recently ran and are continuing to run a program called SkillUp
with Chattanooga State and employers. And in that program, individuals
are trained and earn credentials that place them into their employment
and they get paid while they train, and they go to work 40 hours a
week, earn a credential, and then they are placed in full-time
employment,” Blankenship says.

The Department of Labor says that the share of workers nationally
leaving their positions for new opportunities is at a twenty year
high.

Molly Blankenship says that is sign of lasting
changes to the workfroce from the pandemic.

“Overall it’s going to take employers working to be innovative,
educational providers working to be responsive to employers, and
that’s being really intentional about engaging the community and
getting them connected to the pathways that exist,” she says.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Local News