How to find a job when so many are out of work

More than 420,000 workers have filed for unemployment in Arizona since March, putting more than one in 10 people in the Arizona workforce out of a job. Still, some industries, such as medical, sales, food and delivery companies, are hiring. (Photo by Andreas Klinke Johannsen/Creative Commons)

PHOENIX – COVID-19 has taken a blowtorch to the economy, with millions of people working from home and millions more furloughed or laid off. Still, medical, sales, food and delivery companies are hiring as they develop social distancing protocols to reduce workers’ chances of catching the coronavirus that causes the disease.

Explore websites of grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants looking for workers

Job fairs, like other events, have been moved online. Upcoming fairs include the 21st Annual Phoenix Sales, Professional & Customer Service Virtual Job Fair, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m Wednesday, June 10. Employers are seeking people for customer service sales, consulting, industrial sales, retail and more, and many of the jobs come with salary, paid vacation, insurance benefits and college tuition benefits, according to the website. The event is being hosted by EventBrite.

Grocery stores and pharmacies are hiring at all levels, including Walmart, Target, Costco, Sprouts, CVS, Walgreens and more. Safeway, Fry’s and other grocers also are looking to fill positions at multiple levels.

With Arizonans staying home, delivery drivers are in high demand. FedEx is looking for warehouse workers to help with the influx of packages and drivers to deliver those packages. Frito Lay is looking to hire drivers to keep up with delivery routes.

UPS also is hiring warehouse workers in Phoenix and Tempe.

The medical field has been one of the hardest hit industries, and Banner Health has more than 950 positions open because of the high demand for nurses, medical assistants, janitors and patient representatives. Health Equity, Mountain Park Health Center, Honor Health and Arion Care Solutions are also hiring to meet demand for their medical services.

The Arizona stay-at-home order has limited restaurants to offer takeout. Domino’s, WhatABurger, Papa John’s, WingStop and other fast food chains are hiring cooks and drivers for contact-free delivery.

Other employers looking for workers include Gottell Air Conditioning and Plumbing, Blue Steel Security Services and Connected Vehicle Optimization.

Worker safety must be addressed

As some workers have come down with COVID-19, jobseekers need to bring tough questions to the virtual interview: What’s your company doing to keep employees from being infected on the job?

Amazon, whose valuation has risen sharply amid soaring customer requests for goods through the online behemoth, is simultaneously trying to hire workers and battling workers’ protests.

As the company looks to hire delivery drivers and warehouse workers – specifically in the Phoenix area – Amazon employees elsewhere in the U.S. have been calling in sick and protesting the lack of paid sick leave and working conditions, including a shortage of face masks. They also claim the company’s promise of temperature checks for workers were not kept.

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COVID-19 has been discovered at 130 Amazon warehouses, some of which report case numbers in the 30s or more, according to the Guardian.

Most businesses have taken extra steps to protect customers and workers, hiring more workers to improve service, implementing social distancing signs in their stores, disinfecting their stores and grocery carts frequently, mandating the use of masks and gloves, shortening hours and dedicating shopping hours to senior citizens.

Costco is admitting only two shoppers per membership card, suspended nonessential services and required workers to wear gloves and installed plexiglass dividers between cashiers and shoppers.

Fry’s has decreased its capacity to one person per 120 square feet, a 50% percent decrease from their usual one per 60 square feet, according to the Arizona Republic.

Unemployment continues to soar

Arizona businesses that remain open employ thousands of workers, but the state’s unemployment crisis is expected to worsen.

More than 420,000 workers have filed for unemployment in Arizona since March, putting more than one in 10 people in the Arizona workforce out of a job. Unemployment payments previously were issued within 14 calendar days of claims, but the Arizona Department of Economic Security says the high number of claims has delayed the payments for up to 21 days.

Tamara Hieronymous filed for unemployment on March 20 and has yet to receive anything, she told AZFamily.

“I sent the paperwork and I got a letter back immediately. I got the little ATM card in the mail, and they said we need information about your holiday and your Arizona sick time, so my employer provided all of that information,” she told the news station.

Then, nothing.

“What about people who are literally living paycheck to paycheck and to go four weeks, six weeks without a paycheck means you’re not paying your bills?” Hieronymous asked.

J.J. Santos

Money Reporter, Phoenix

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