Despite workforce issues, companies are still considering NJ, panelists say

(Left to Right) Colin Newman, Director, Public Policy, Amazon; Dan Lynch, vice president of state and local government affairs, United Airlines; Jose Lozano, President and CEO, Choose New Jersey.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, October marked the tenth consecutive month of gains in nonfarm jobs in New Jersey. The state’s private sector employers have created more than 38,000 jobs in the past two months, and overall New Jersey has now recovered 512,900 jobs, or about 72% of the number of jobs lost in March and April 2020 due to the impact of the COVID -19 pandemic.

Despite these gains, there remains a lag in the state’s unemployment rate, which currently stands at 7%, well above the national average of 4.6%, and the number of job vacancies. employment in the state, of which about 300,000.

There are many reasons people don’t return to work, including childcare issues and now expired unemployment benefits, but the general sentiment of panelists at the 2022 New Jersey Business & Public Policy Forum The Industry Association (NJBIA) is that over time more people will eventually reenter the workforce as the state continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

“There is always a level of optimism,” Choose NJ President and CEO Jose Lozano said during a panel discussion at the NJBIA Public Policy Forum held at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Woodbridge. “We still have a significant number of companies coming to New Jersey, and continuing to hire and add more jobs.”

He said New Jersey’s well-documented benefits, such as its prime location and highly skilled workforce, remain attractive to businesses despite the state’s current unemployment rate and, more importantly, its taxes. students.

“This region is still the region of choice for international companies looking to expand into the United States,” Lozano said. “Businesses are looking to build the workforce of tomorrow, and the workforce of tomorrow really values ​​some of the things we in New Jersey take for granted, like being a great place to raise a family.” and excellent school systems. “

Dan Lynch, vice president of state and local government affairs at United Airlines, echoed that optimism and said that although his airline has been hit hard during the pandemic, he believes his business will continue to grow.

“We have hired for positions at Newark Liberty International Airport and have had no problem filling those positions,” said Lynch.

United has also been aggressive in its long-term vision, announcing the United Next program last summer, in which the airline will purchase more than 270 new planes and hire staff to staff them.

Lynch predicts that the program will create 5,000 new jobs in New Jersey over the next five to six years.

Of course, attracting employees to today’s job market isn’t just about providing them with jobs. Higher wages and solid benefits remain essential tools for employers to attract talent.

New Jersey’s largest private-sector employer, Amazon, recently said it was increasing its average starting wage to $ 18 an hour for 125,000 new hires in the United States in transportation and fulfillment duties. Some locations also offer login bonuses of up to $ 3,000. The positions also offer full-time workers health, eye and dental insurance, as well as paid parental leave 401 (k) and up to 20 weeks. The company also said it will pay full tuition fees for its 750,000 hourly employees in the United States starting in January.

“Flexibility in its many forms is the name of the game,” added Colin Newman, director of public policy at Amazon. This includes flexible hours, the ability to choose your schedule, and work-from-home and hybrid options.

Newman said Amazon recently launched its FamilyFlex program, which gives employees the ability to switch shifts at any time and create custom schedules through an app and website. The program was created from direct employee feedback.

Going forward, uncertainty remains the biggest hurdle for both employees and businesses.

“What businesses want from their government is stability and predictability,” Lynch said.

That said, the current climate doesn’t seem to deter companies from looking at the Garden State, at least according to Lozano.

“If you just look at it on paper, from the perspective of Choose NJ, all the companies we talk to and the companies that have made a commitment to come to New Jersey, you would never know that there is currently a pandemic. “, did he declare. Explain. “Choose NJ will have one of its most successful years in 10 years of companies committing to come to New Jersey.”

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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