Desperate for employees, US businesses struggle to hire

A man speaks with a representative from Whitsons Culinary Group at the Employers Only Long Island Food, Beverage and Hospitality Job Fair on Oct.19, 2021 in Melville, New York. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)
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A man speaks with a representative from Whitsons Culinary Group at the Employers Only Long Island Food, Beverage and Hospitality Job Fair on Oct.19, 2021 in Melville, New York. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)
 A jobseeker hands his resume to a job recruiter at the Employers Only Long Island Food, Beverage and Hospitality Job Fair on Oct. 19, 2021 in Melville, New York.(Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)
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A jobseeker hands his resume to a job recruiter at the Employers Only Long Island Food, Beverage and Hospitality Job Fair on Oct. 19, 2021 in Melville, New York.(Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)
A man speaks with a job fair representative at the Employers Only Long Island Food, Beverage and Hospitality Job Fair on Oct.19, 2021 in Melville, New York. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)
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A man speaks with a job fair representative at the Employers Only Long Island Food, Beverage and Hospitality Job Fair on Oct.19, 2021 in Melville, New York. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)
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Updated 24 October 2021

Desperate for employees, US businesses struggle to hire

Desperate for employees, US businesses struggle to hire
  • More than 10 million jobs were unfilled as of the end of August, according to government data

NEW YORK: To keep the taps at his recently opened beer tasting room flowing, Peter Chekijian had no choice but to ask his main employees to come in seven days per-week.
The staffing shortage has also kept Chekijian from realizing his goal of brewing beer on site, since he can’t find contractors to finish installing tanks he requires.
“That’s been a big issue of getting people to actually finish up the job,” said Chekijian, who co-founded the small Twin Fork Beer Company in New York state.
Even as millions of Americans who lost their jobs to the Covid-19 pandemic have returned to work, companies nationwide report they’re still struggling to hire employees in recent months.
More than 10 million jobs were unfilled as of the end of August, according to government data. The labor force participation rate, which measures the US economy’s active workforce, was 61.6 percent in September, compared to 63.3 percent before the pandemic.
The causes of the short staffing are myriad, from continued fears of contracting Covid-19, particularly among people who live with elderly family or children, to early retirements and objections over work-life balance and low wages.
And while the government throughout the pandemic offered generous unemployment benefits to keep people who lost their job financially sound, their expiration last month hasn’t yet caused hiring to increase.

The employee shortages come as restaurants and entertainment venues reopen amid as more Americans get vaccinated, and ahead of the uptick in business around the holiday season.
With “so many employers trying to hire so many people at the same time, it creates that imbalance,” said Aaron Sojourner, an economist at the University of Minnesota.
Employers who spoke to AFP told of mad scrambles to attract applicants by offering higher wages and other perks.
Chekijian has put out ads looking for employees and attended job fairs with offers of time off, benefits packages and salaries as generous as he can manage, but still can’t find the people he needs.
“It’s been shockingly slow,” he said. “It’s definitely affecting what we’re trying to do in terms of growing our business.”
The biggest American retailers are hiring staff ahead of the holiday season, with Amazon and Walmart both recruiting 150,000 people, Target and UPS taking on 100,000 and FedEx 90,000.
Logistics company GXO is looking to hire 9,000 employees for the busy season over the next two months, and its head of human resources Maryclaire Hammond said “finding people has been a huge issue.”
“There is a massive competition for talent at all levels, there is an absolute war,” she said in an interview.

GXO is particularly short on material handlers and forklift operators, and has paid for billboards and social media advertisements and organized job fairs to attract applications.
It has upped its pay by $3 to $5 per-hour in the past eight months and offered hiring incentives and a benefits package including health insurance, retirement contributions and college tuition assistance.
But Hammond said getting people to stay is even trickier.
“The current workforce is pretty fickle, happy to change,” she said. If a warehouse nearby pays even slightly more, employees will move there.
The company has tried to make workers feel comfortable, even going so far as to hand out burritos at some warehouses.
“Offering very good burritos in the mornings, it sounds silly, but things like that really motivate people,” Hammond said.
It has also tried to find ways around the worker shortages by increasing automation in its warehouses by 40 percent this year.
Staci Weinsheimer is looking for a full-time administrative job and feels that the market is finally turning in her favor.
“I’m getting a lot of interviews, I’m getting a lot of great feedback from the employers,” she said after meeting with hospitality companies at a job fair in Melville, New York.
Some job seekers still struggle to find work, or question whether companies will treat them well.
“Employers could be spending more money to attract new hires, and to improve working conditions. Those who do that find it easier to hire,” Sojourner, the University of Minnesota economist, said.
He added: “But a lot of employers are reluctant to really raise wages, because that does come out of their profits, and then the incumbent employees might also want a raise.”
 


Bahrain outlook improves on fiscal reforms, S&P says

Bahrain outlook improves on fiscal reforms, S&P says
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 6 sec ago

Bahrain outlook improves on fiscal reforms, S&P says

Bahrain outlook improves on fiscal reforms, S&P says
  • The agency said it expects the government to benefit from additional financial support from its Gulf neighbours

S&P Global Ratings has revised Bahrain's outlook to 'stable' from 'negative' on the back of new fiscal reforms aimed at improving non-oil revenues and cutting state spending, the ratings agency said in a statement.

Rated below investment grade, Bahrain was bailed out to avoid a credit crunch in 2018 with a $10 billion package from wealthy neighbours, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.


That money was linked to a set of fiscal reforms, but after the coronavirus crisis strained its finances, Bahrain in September postponed plans to balance its budget by two years and announced plans to increase a value-added tax.


"The Bahraini government recently announced additional fiscal reforms to strengthen non-oil revenue and rationalize expenditure. These measures, along with the more supportive oil price environment, should improve the sovereign's fiscal position", S&P said in a statement this weekend.


The agency said it expects the government to benefit from additional financial support from its Gulf neighbors, if needed.


Bahrain will double value-added tax to 10 percent next year, a move which S&P estimated could contribute receipts of about 3 percent of gross domestic product in the next few years, up from about 1.7 percent this year.


The Gulf state is also planning to rationalize operational government expenditure and social subsidies in 2023 and 2024, a move which shifts the focus of its reforms more on the spending side than on raising non-oil revenues.


"We believe there is higher implementation risk in expenditure rationalization as the delicate political and social environment on the island, which has constrained the government's efforts, persists", S&P said.


Bahrain has in the past backtracked on some reforms as its Sunni Muslim rulers feared that austerity moves would bolster the majority Shi’ite-led opposition and stir more of the unrest that rattled the country since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.


How Omicron is affecting Middle East markets

How Omicron is affecting Middle East markets
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 14 min 5 sec ago

How Omicron is affecting Middle East markets

How Omicron is affecting Middle East markets
  • Oil prices stumbled in their biggest decline since April 2020

DUBAI: The new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, has prompted global economic concerns, as fears of its spread begin to affect stock markets and oil prices. 

Saudi Arabia’s main market, the Tadawul All Share Index, opened 5.3 percent lower on Sunday, trading near 10,700 points. 

The Dubai Financial Market was down 8.49 percent.

Oil prices stumbled in their biggest decline since April 2020, with Brent prices dropping 11.55 percent to $72.72 per barrel when markets closed on Friday, while WTI slid 13.06 percent down to $68.15 per barrel.

The variant was first discovered in South Africa and had also since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel, the UK, Australia and Hong Kong.

Within the Middle East Israel is the only country to have reported a case of the new variant so far, but some governments in the region have issued travel curbs to prevent the virus from spreading. 

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia expanded the list of African countries where it barred travel because of Omicron, adding Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Mauritius and the Comoros Islands.

The Kingdom earlier halted flights to and from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini.

Other Middle East countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Jordan have issued similar measures. 


Saudi stock market drops 5.3 as Omicron sparks global concern

Saudi stock market drops 5.3 as Omicron sparks global concern
Updated 13 min 50 sec ago

Saudi stock market drops 5.3 as Omicron sparks global concern

Saudi stock market drops 5.3 as Omicron sparks global concern

Saudi Arabia’s main market, the Tadawul All Share Index, opened 5.3 percent lower on Sunday, trading near 10,700 points.


Aramco prepares work on its largest non-associated gas field

Aramco prepares work on its largest non-associated gas field
Updated 28 November 2021

Aramco prepares work on its largest non-associated gas field

Aramco prepares work on its largest non-associated gas field
  • The Saudi-listed firm claims it to be the “largest non-associated gas field” in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco is marking the start of its development of the Jafurah unconventional gas field on Nov. 29. 

The Saudi-listed firm claims it to be the “largest non-associated gas field” in the Kingdom. 

The move is part of the Kingdom’s push to commercialize its unconventional resources and expand Aramco’s integrated gas portfolio. 


London-based Knight Frank expands Dubai team as real estate continues boom

London-based Knight Frank expands Dubai team as real estate continues boom
Updated 28 November 2021

London-based Knight Frank expands Dubai team as real estate continues boom

London-based Knight Frank expands Dubai team as real estate continues boom
  • The firm hired Andrew Cummings, who has been involved in major sales transactions in Dubai, including two 100-million-dirham properties

DUBAI: London-based real estate firm Knight Frank has hired a veteran broker in Dubai as it expands its operations in the emirate, particularly targeting the luxury market. 

The firm hired Andrew Cummings, who has been involved in major sales transactions in Dubai, including two 100-million-dirham properties, which at the time were the second and third highest sales in the emirate’s residential market history. 

It comes as Dubai experiences a surge in sales transactions, particularly in the luxury residential market, in recent months.

“With Dubai’s property market roaring back to life and seeing record growth in 2021, now is absolutely the time to capitalize on this momentum,” Cummings said in a statement.