Unemployment down, but worker shortage continues for some local businesses

Unemployment down, but worker shortage continues for some local businesses

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PEORIA (WEEK) — In June 2020, Peoria had an unemployment rate of 13.6 percent, Bloomington’s rate sat at 10.8 percent. One year later, things are drastically different.

In June 2021, Peoria’s unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, Bloomington’s was 5.4 percent. Yet, despite more people back on the job, many businesses in Central Illinois are struggling to fill vacant positions. On Thursday, both the Kroger in North Peoria and Firestone in Pekin put on hiring events.

“In all actuality…I’ve never had a hiring event before, I’ve never had the need for one. We’ve typically, if we lose one person, it never takes that long to find that person. Right now, I’ve had a lot of issues with people not showing up for interviews,” said Anita Marx, store manager at Firestone Complete Auto Care.

From repair shops to grocery stores, everyone is feeling the pressure of a job market that is a lot different from what we saw in 2020.

“Just as things are opening back up, the job market is very competitive and we’re competing with a lot of other places to get jobs,” said Josh Marshall, a Kroger store manager.

“Everybody else started hiring and offering more money, so we did lose some people to other companies…we have adjusted our pay scale along with everyone else, so we are hiring for more positions,” said Marx.

Both businesses said some did turnout for their events on Thursday. Depending on the results they see, Marx said Firestone could possibly host another event.

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