Help Wanted

Hundreds of jobs available in county for those who want to work

By Bruce Hope bruce@opcfla.com
Posted 8/26/20

ORANGE PARK – Driving on roadways like County Road 220, Blanding Boulevard, or U.S. Highway 17 in Clay County, you’ll see a lot of help wanted and now hiring signs

Millions of jobs have been …

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Help Wanted

Hundreds of jobs available in county for those who want to work

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Driving on roadways like County Road 220, Blanding Boulevard, or U.S. Highway 17 in Clay County, you’ll see a lot of help wanted and now hiring signs

Millions of jobs have been lost or furloughed over the past several months by the COVID-19 pandemic. After two phased reopening of the state, however, the opposite effect is also being seen. A lot of companies that have reopened now need people to work to try and get back to optimum productivity. Many employees have been unable to return to work due to having contracted the coronavirus or have been in contact with someone who has. Another factor having a significant influence on the inability to fill open positions has been the unemployment benefits boost that allows recipients to receive extra money on top of the standard maximum of $275 weekly.

Between March 28 and July 31, that benefit grew by an additional $600 weekly as part of the federal government’s relief package to help unemployed workers could pay their bills. That amount prompted many to continue collecting checks instead of returning to a job that doesn’t pay as much.

Super Cuts on C.R. 220 opened on May 11 and has had difficulty finding employees.

“When we first opened, we had an issue with people not wanting to come apply,” said Taylor Bennington, the manager at that location. “So, then we did have to close the store [during the shutdown]. I’ve had the sign [“Now Hiring”] up for about two weeks now, and nobody’s applied.” Bennington has also heard the increased unemployment benefit is part of the reason for the difficulty in getting applicants.

“That’s what people are saying; that’s the rumor,” she said.

While that may be the case for some, not everyone is facing the same issues when looking for employees.

New Leaf Vapor Company on Blanding Blvd. is always accepting applications and also has a ‘Now Hiring’ sign posted outside of the shop.

“Right now, it’s pretty much standard like we always do,” said Ivy Narwhald, manager at the store. New Leaf typically accepts applications online and will email a prospective employee to set up a phone interview.

Cheyanne Granger is a new hire. She lost her previous job in April because of COVID-19 but was lucky enough to be contacted by the manager at New Leaf. She has been going to the shop for about four years now. Granger was receiving unemployment benefits when she first lost her job.

“I did [receive benefits] for about a month and a half, and then I just stopped getting it,” she said. “I didn’t get any information about it; it just stopped. And whenever I tried to get in contact with the office about that, I never got any return phone calls or emails.” Granger said that she was receiving about $400 weekly, which is above the standard threshold.

“That was a big income for my household,” she said.

The stimulus package ran out three weeks ago and talks in Washington, D.C., have stalled about replacing it. That’s sparked interest for some to return to work.

Chris Rennard is a manager for Pizza Hut on U.S. 17 on Fleming Island.

“We’re hiring a bunch of people at the moment,” he said. “It’s going really good.” Rennard says that he hasn’t experienced people not wanting to work because of better pay on unemployment.

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