Jobs available, but prospective employees still face obstacles

By Michael Perchick

February 8, 2022

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — A strong January jobs report and improving COVID-19 metrics are encouraging signs of an economic rebound, even as the unemployment rate of 4% remains above pre-pandemic levels. However, despite plenty of businesses looking to hire, some prospective employees face challenges in finding employment.

This is especially true for a number of women who left the workforce during the pandemic for a variety of reasons, including caring for family. Lisa Atwa, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, did so to watch after her two young grandchildren.

“There’s really no time to look and follow up and do all the things a person has to do to secure employment. Recently I lost an opportunity at a facility doing telehealth where I really wanted to work because I was not able to set up the second interview in time,” Atwa said.

“With every recession, you have a situation where people leave the workforce. They then, because the need to create income, become entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Henry McKoy, the NC Central Director of Entrepreneurship.

While that’s a potential silver lining to employment challenges, McKoy highlighted the difficulties of people staying out of the workforce for prolonged periods of time.

“The question becomes whenever it’s time to move back into the workforce, will these individuals have to upskill again? Will the jobs they knew before still be the same,” McKoy said.

On a wider scale, a lack of participation in the workforce can exacerbate staffing shortages for businesses.

“It certainly has an impact on the overall economic engine when you cut down the income that’s coming into a household, and that certainly has an impact on the broader consumer marketplace, which has ramifications. If you don’t have as much money to spend, then that has impacts on the ability for corporations to grow and to hire and things of that nature, and then the question becomes: how long will this last?,” said McKoy.