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Businesses ready to hire but having trouble finding people to show up

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 7:22 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Everywhere you look, it seems like businesses are trying to hire people.

Wilbert John-Baptiste is the general manager for Pita Pit in Anchorage. With three locations, the business is always looking to hire, but John-Baptiste says it hasn’t been easy.

“It’s just getting people to actually show up for their interviews, that’s the problem,” John-Baptiste said. “We might have five or so people apply; only two or so people will actually respond to us when we respond back at least. Once we do two interviews only one person will actually want the job and show up for the next day.”

The state is still not back to pre-pandemic numbers, but some areas hit the hardest are seeing an increase in jobs.

August’s job count was up 4.4% from August 2020, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. That’s an increase of 13,600 jobs, but still almost 30,000 below August 2019.

In leisure and hospitality, 5,600 jobs were added this year compared to last year in August, which is still more than 10,000 below August 2019. The job count number does not reflect the number of jobs available, but the number of jobs filled in that time period.

“That’s pretty impressive, but at the same time we’re still in the hole, quite a bit with those levels, and it will probably several years before some of those come back,” said Karinne Wiebold, an economist with the State of Alaska.

According to the Alaska Department of Labor, the state’s unemployment rate was at 6.4% in August, while the national average was 5.2%.

While the numbers are improving, John-Baptiste said his business had to adjust their hours of operation to adapt to the lack of staff and shortages of products. But starting Tuesday, they will be back to their regular business hours.

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