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West Michigan job market is 'pretty hot,' as manufacturing, health care are top hiring industries

"The number of job postings or ads placed in the month of January of this year, is higher than it's ever been since January of 2018," said West Michigan Works COO.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Despite the pandemic, West Michigan's job market is looking strong. 

Angie Barksdale, the chief operating officer of West Michigan Works! said this side of the state is faring better than most others. West Michigan's unemployment rate is about 4%, while the state's in December was 7.5%. 

According to Michigan's labor market page, Barksdale said the number of job postings and ads placed in January of this year is higher than it has been since January of 2018.

"The job market in West Michigan is pretty hot right now," said Barksdale. "Almost every industry you can think of is hiring,"

One company looking to hire is Cascade Engineering. They need to fill about 30 entry-level positions. The company produces large-part plastic injection molding, including trash carts. 

Cascade Engineering is hosting a job fair on March 6. It takes place at the Linc Up building at 1167 Madison Avenue SE in Grand Rapids from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Human Resources Director Jami Farkas said applicants can do anything from basic application, to having a start date by the time they leave the fair. 

The company also works to be an employer of choice. Starting wages begin at $15.06 per hour, and benefits start on day one. Cascade Manufacturing also works to help employees with barriers like transportation and childcare, and is a felony-friendly employer. 

"Just because you have something on your record, it doesn't mean you can't come work for us," said Fakas. "Because what we found is that a lot of the the infractions, they're old. We see a lot of DUIs, and it's just really no reason to keep someone from having a job. So, we look at it on a case-by-case basis. There's very few things that we would say are not acceptable for us to at least give a try."

It's not just manufacturing jobs looking to hire. Barksdale said health care jobs, construction, and food production also have open positions. 

Some industries that may not have recovered as well from the pandemic, such as retail and restaurants, are also starting to hire once again. Many of which are forced to find new employees. 

"Now, as things start to open up, what we're finding is when those employers go to call back individuals who may have been laid off on a temporary basis, or even a long term layoff, when they go to reach back to those employees, they're no longer available," said Barksdale. "Or, they're struggling with daycare issues, as we still have many kids doing remote learning, or the potential of being sent home for quarantine, and all of the variables around a household with children in it."

If you are looking for a job, Barksdale suggests actively searching job boards. Also, update your resume, and practice virtual interviews, as many will be done through Zoom. There are many tools for job-seekers on the West Michigan Works! website.

"So, are there humps and bumps and their things changing? Absolutely," said Barksdale. "But, we're still sitting relatively in a good place compared to the state as well as the rest of the country."

If you are interested in attending the job fair for Cascade Engineering, you can begin an application on their website.

RELATED VIDEO: Surge in e-commerce during pandemic

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