Companies seek workers at Philly-area job fairs as unemployment numbers drop

As people go back to work, they are being pickier about the kind of jobs they'll take.
SOUTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As many businesses across Pennsylvania struggle to find adequate staffing, some are bringing back job fairs to see dozens of candidates at once.

Economists say in Philadelphia the unemployment rate is almost back to pre-pandemic levels. But as people go back to work, they are being pickier about the kind of jobs they'll take.

"People are willing to look for a higher pay, and hop job to job, and don't care about leaving a company," said Seagree Simms from Southwest Philadelphia.

She visited an employment fair at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Philadelphia Airport where the Transportation Security Administration was recruiting officers.

"A lot of jobs that I've been looking into haven't been catching my attention because the pay's not worth it for me," Simms said of her search up until the job fair.

She could potentially be one of more than 100 people who will be hired by the TSA, filling a massive staffing shortage there.

"It's affecting our ability to keep the lines short and keep people moving, so we're trying to get some people hired," said Bonni Womack, the assistant federal security director for mission support at Philadelphia International Airport with TSA.

Experts say staffing is a problem across Pennsylvania.

"Businesses are feeling the strain of trying to find workers, simply because everybody is looking for workers. There are less workers to go around at this point," said Dr. Joshua Mask, an economics professor at Temple University.

Mask says it's a case of supply and demand. Our data journalism team says Philadelphia unemployment is at its lowest point since the start of the pandemic at 6.8% and the number of workers is climbing too, near January 2020 levels.

"With the dynamic of this current job market, employers have to make concessions. Usually pay is the best way to convince people to come over," said Mask.

As companies look for employees, Rowan University held a reverse job fair where employers came to interview job seekers with disabilities from the university's Adult Center for Transition.

"To let people know they are hardworking, dedicated, energetic, loyal employees," said Alice Smith from Rowan College of South Jersey.

Meanwhile, to attract more candidates, TSA is offering extra benefits like a $1,000 hiring bonus where new employees will get $500 upon hire and $500 after a year of employment.

"Right now, with us being a 'hard to hire airport,' we're offering a 10% retention incentive that's on top of their salary," said Womack.

TSA is holding its second day of the job fair Wednesday. A spokesperson said more than 1,000 people registered for the two days.
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.