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Published: Thursday, March 14, 2019 @ 5:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 @ 7:05 PM
XENIA — Company representatives looking to fill positions outnumbered job-seekers Wednesday at Xenia’s Job Fair, which is indicative of today’s job market.
More than 60 companies and organizations set up shop with giveaways and job applications in Xenia High School’s gymnasium. There were 880 available jobs, according to Amy McKinney, workforce administrator with Greene County Job and Family Services.
McKinney said starting wages are on the rise, and “our employers have expressed a real hiring need.”
“Skilled and experienced workers are priceless and are moving around some as they find better opportunities,” McKinney said. “We believe this is what is causing wages to improve. Employers realize the value of their trained and productive employees.”
The first hour was open only to XHS seniors, and dozens talked to potential employers about opportunities after graduation. Turnout from the public appeared lower, but it is an employees market these days, with low unemployment rates and companies expanding and creating positions.
The city of Xenia was among the employer booths, offering positions in the public safety divisions, as well as administrative and seasonal opportunities.
Xenia City Manager Brent Merriman said it’s harder than ever to find qualified people to hire.
“These entities that have job opportunities are having to reach more and more at lower levels of schooling, down into the high school with sophomores and juniors because of a growing labor shortage,” Merriman said. “Having partnerships with folks like Xenia Community Schools is essential. It helps set our students up for success; at the same time it helps to grow that workforce from within.”
Greene County’s unemployment rate in January was 4.7 percent, slightly lower than Ohio’s rate of 5.4 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Among the companies represented that have recently expanded was Energizer Inc, which has a research and development facility in Vandalia. In addition to batteries, Energizer has an auto-care division offering products such as Armor All and STP Gas Treatment.
The Vandalia facility employs a little more than 500 now, and that’s about 200 more that have been added in the last year and a half, according to Courtney Ringo, a human resources representative for Energizer.
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Ringo said summer is the busy season for the auto-care division, and they have about 50 positions open ranging from team operators, forklift drivers and maintenance technicians.
“It is an employees’ market, but we’re pretty confident in what we have, our benefits package and what we have to offer at our facility,” Ringo said, adding that the job market is different than it was a decade or so ago.
“Everything is online now,” she said. “Also, the job market has expanded. Businesses are ramping up. I think a lot more positions have been created in any industry.”