As unemployment falls, hiring is difficult


Unemployment is down in Santa Clarita, a feat that might normally be seen as a good thing. But for some businesses, it can become a double-edged sword when it comes to recruiting. Businesses take longer to fill positions, and the process isn’t always as intuitive as they would like, local business leaders say.

“Difficulty in finding employees that are ready to work and have the skillset is the biggest issue facing employers,” said Holly Schroeder, director of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. “And we hear about it all the time.”

Over at the Valley Industry Association, President Kathy Norris said she hears from employers all the time who say they’re struggling to find individuals to fill their positions.

“There’s a disconnect between what the employer is looking for and the skillset a potential employee has to offer,” she said.

Norris herself is looking for someone to do administrative work for the association. However, the hiring process has even taken her some time. She has done a dozen interviews, she said, and looked closely at resumes. But it takes some work to identify the right people.

Matt Kincaid, a client services manager with Santa Clarita-based agency Sage Staffing, said that out here, prospective employees have more choices when it comes to job selection.

“We are in what is known as a ‘candidate’s market,’” he said. “That means low unemployment and an increased amount of companies hiring.”

Santa Clarita has consistently had an unemployment rate around the county’s rate, according to the Los Angeles County Employment Development Department.

As of July, there were 4,900 people unemployed in the city of Santa Clarita out of a labor force of 98,800, putting the rate at 5 percent. About 93,900 were employed. Los Angeles County had a rate of 4.8 percent.

With a candidate’s market, turnover rates will go up as employees leave their jobs for better opportunities, which appears common among young people, Norris said.

“There seems to be a trend of younger workers looking for jobs outside of Santa Clarita,” she said. “We have a lot of amazingly skilled people trying to go outside the city to bigger areas.”

Another circumstance of the candidate’s market is rising compensation, Kincaid said. Sage Staffing matches candidates and companies by giving advice on salaries and work life benefits. Based on that line of work, Kincaid has observed that companies and candidates are raising their standards.

“Many of our clients are adjusting their salary scales upward as minimum wage continues to rise,” he said. “And operations are affected as increased costs for employees mean increased costs for the goods and services these companies produce.”

Norris said personality types may be a factor when trying to find the best candidates.

VIA is a nonprofit, so its standards for hiring differ from a bigger corporation, but regardless, it takes work to identify the right candidates, she said.

“I really wish I could put my finger on the reason why employers and employees struggle to match up,” she said. “I know there are plenty of skilled people out there, but I do not know why we as employers cannot find them.”


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