Labor-starved employers have been scrambling to recruit and retain workers for several years. Now, there is a new entry on the list of hot job categories: the folks who do the recruiting and retaining.
"Today versus last year, there is more activity in the human resources field," explained Gary Gallagher, vice president of Interim Executive Recruiting, Maumee. "In fact, 10 per cent of our January work was in the HR field."
Five job-placement executives interviewed for this story were unanimous in their belief that the Toledo-area employment market will remain tight in 2000, with especially hot competition for computer specialists, warehouse workers, accountants, retail workers, and engineers. Joblessness in Lucas County ended the year at its lowest level in 26 years when it slipped to 3.8 per cent in December. And labor markets were tight throughout the region.
Even if the economy slows slightly, Bruce Rumpf, president of Toledo-based Job1USA, doesn't expect significant weakening of the labor market. "The situation will continue regardless . . . " he said. "I hear it from construction companies and many other employers. No one seems to have an abundance of labor at this point."
Added Tom Deyerle, operator of the local Remedy Intelligent Staffing office: "At the higher end of the market, you can always attract the right person for the right job. But at the lower end of the market, we have full employment. Positions are going unfilled.
"Everybody is desperate to get enough people to get the goods and services and to get them out the door."
Times aren't good for everyone, however. The once booming medical field is going through restructuring locally that has displaced many people, especially executives, middle management personnel, and line supervisors. Many of the cuts were prompted by tightened reimbursement formulas and other changes in the health-care system in Toledo and across the nation.
Clyde Kunkel, who provides career consulting services at Interim, has counseled a family physician planning to leave his practice for greener pastures of medical academia.
Prospects in the medical field aren't universally bleak, however. Hospitals, for example, continue to look for floor nurses. In the same institution that such recruiting is taking place, there might be layoffs of nursing supervisors, Mr. Kunkel noted.
The Ohio Bureau of Employment Services' estimate of occupations with the most openings in the Toledo area is dominated by lower-wage, non-skilled jobs. The list is led by the retail industry, which is expected to need 466 sales personnel and 459 cashiers each year.
Other jobs with the most annual openings include waiters and waitresses, 381; food preparation workers, 297; general managers and top executives, 289; and general office clerks, 209.
The 30 fastest-growing occupations - based on rate of growth, not annual openings - include computer engineers, with 28 openings a year; computer systems analysts, with 96 annual openings; home health aides, with 88 annual openings; paralegal personnel, with 13 annual openings; and medical assistants, with 67 annual openings.
Currently, there is heavy demand for clerical workers with computer skills, said Rainette Sanders, office manager of Entech Personnel Services, Maumee. The jobs are becoming increasingly difficult to fill because potential candidates are being lured away by higher wages offered in the fast-food industry or are returning to school to sweeten their marketability.
The hot labor market continues to boost employment prospects for the once maligned liberal arts graduate. "They are still being looked at for a broad spectrum of opportunities," said Interim's Mr. Kunkel.
Interim's Mr. Gallagher tops his list of hottest occupations with engineers.
"In this area, engineering is where it's at," he said. Much - but not all - of the demand comes from the area's dominant auto industry.
Job placements have been growing the last seven years at Interim, with a 30 per cent increase recorded last year, said Mr. Gallagher. "Finance and accounting are very active markets. There are also lots of opportunities in information technology. Many people thought that with Y2K not being a significant issue, there would be a glut of people in the market. But it hasn't happened."