BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — Employment groups in the Rio Grande Valley teamed up to host large job fairs across the valley. The event happened as national unemployment rates still hover two percent higher than they were before the pandemic.
Workforce Solutions Cameron (WFS Cameron), Workforce Solutions Lower Rio (WFS), and Rio Grande Valley Partnership (RGV) hosted two job fairs on August 19. One in both McAllen and Brownsville, hoping to connect job seekers with employers across the valley.
“That’s our function, putting people back to work,” said Pat Hobbes, Executive Director of Workforce Solutions Cameron.
The unemployment rate is now at 5.4 percent, almost ten percent lower than it was during the height of the 2020 recession that was caused by the initial shutdowns following the declaration of the pandemic.
Despite the improvement, businesses are still hungry for workers. “We hear all the time from the employers that they can’t find the skilled workers that they need in order to operate at maximum capacity,” said Hobbes.
The job fairs offered between 4,000 to 5,000 jobs. Hobbes added that only companies that were looking to hire immediately were invited to the fairs.
Employers are working to get back to the level of production they were at before the pandemic, and hiring is taking off. Nearly a million jobs were filled in July.
Glindy Munoz, a Healthcare Recruiter, said that there is a lot of “demand and a lot of pressure” to hire more employees to fill gaps in the workforce.
Some job seekers are still hesitant to dive back into the workforce with COVID cases still lingering, and with businesses needing more workers, employees can afford to be picky.
“Honestly, I know there are positions open, but nothing really that I would like,” said Gualberto Garza, a Grad Student who was looking for a job at the Brownsville job fair.
Employers hope that a return to in-person events like the ones today in McAllen and Brownsville will improve prospects.
Munoz said that trying to recruit employees is “not the same virtually, through Zoom.” She said making connections was more difficult online.
“It serves a lot more purpose being in person, talking in person, being face-to-face,” said Munoz.
The fact that people were being hired on the spot couldn’t hurt recruitment, either.
“I thought it was going to be a longer process, maybe it usually takes a month or two months, but I was happy I got a job right away,” said Salvador Salinas, who was at the McAllen job fair.
Workforce solutions hope to hold more collaborative job fairs in the near future.