“Compared to last year, it [unemployment] is a lot higher. But it’s better than I thought it would be for the pandemic, for our county,” Terri Cooley-Taylor, Site Administrator of Greene County’s PA CareerLink, said.
Over the last six months, the unemployment rates in Greene County have increased exponentially reaching heights greater than those recorded during the Great Recession.
In April, Greene County’s unemployment rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reached a peak height of 14.3%, which was greater than the 10.6% peak recorded during the Great Recession in 2009.
In recent months, the rate has decreased. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded Greene County’s most recent percentage in September to be 7.7%, which is still higher than Greene County’s 2019 average unemployment rate of 5.1%, recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Because of the increase in unemployment over the past few months, Greene County’s PA CareerLink has been assisting residents with filing for unemployment benefits.
“There has been a greater demand through virtual assistance. They have been calling in and needing our assistance with our unemployment compensation. Assistance helping them with filing their claim – maybe they had a claim that didn’t go through. We’re just trying to help them with the process,” Cooley-Taylor said.
Despite the increase in assistance with filing unemployment, Cooley-Taylor said Greene County’s PA CareerLink has not had a lot of individuals contact them for their job seeker services.
“In our county, we have a lot of health care positions that our available; we have a lot of hospitality positions available,” Cooley-Taylor said. “There’s employers that call our office every day that are needing employees and they just can’t find them right now. There’s a greater need than ever before for job seekers.”
In addition to unemployment compensation and job seeker assistance, PA CareerLink offers other services to benefit those unemployed in Greene County. Even though the majority of residents did not utilize PA CareerLink’s job seeker service, their job training service became widely popular during the pandemic.
“A lot of people were laid off in March, April, May, and they became eligible for training. So, we are training a lot of Greene County residents right now for better employment because they became eligible because they were dislocated workers … due to COVID-19,” Cooley-Taylor said. “If it was a short-term training, they’ll be coming out of their training provider soon and be going back out into the workforce.”
As businesses reopen and the unemployment rates slowly reach normal percentages, Cooley-Taylor emphasizes the continual need for job seekers in Greene County.
“If you’re looking for a job, now’s the time to look because there’s a vast array of jobs that you can look for. The competition is very low, and employers are really looking for anyone at this point to fill positions,” Cooley-Taylor said.