Durham businesses having a hard time hiring new workers as COVID-19 rules are relaxed

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Signs of hope can be seen on this Good Friday as the latest data from the U.S. Labor Department shows job growth boomed in March at the fastest pace since last summer.

The data shows the county added 916,000 jobs last month.

Here in the Triangle, more businesses are opening back up and extending their hours, which means they are looking to hire more employees.

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Pie Pushers, a locally owned restaurant in Durham, is seeking to hire new delivery drivers and line cooks as business has started to pick up again.

“It’s nicer out and people are starting to come out a little more,” said Becky Hacker, co-owner of Pie Pushers.

Hacker said this time last year when the lockdown started, they had to lay off half their staff.

But as the Durham Bulls prepare to start playing baseball again in May, Pie Pushers will soon be busy making pizza for those games.

Hacker said this means that for the first time in months they will need to hire more workers.

“It’s lovely to be in a position where we can hire again, but it’s not necessarily an easy process yet,” Hacker said.

Hacker said they are having a hard time finding people to apply for the positions.

“It’s hard to know why people aren’t applying as much right now,” Hacker said. “Are they not ready to go back into the workforce? Or is unemployment (pay) enough for them right now?”

At The Oak House across the street, the business that specializes in coffee, beer, wine, and whiskey has also lost half of its staff in the last year.

“When everything locked down, Durham was a ghost town. You could park in the middle of Main Street and no one would know,” said Tyler Vet, general manager of The Oak House. “It’s almost comical how we weren’t even making $100 a day. Everyone was furloughed for that reason, it was a struggle.”

But now that they have reopened indoor dining and COVID-19 restrictions have been loosened, they are looking to hire more employees.

“Since we do coffee and alcohol, we’re able to open earlier and later now,” Vet said. “So with that expansion, we need a few more bodies to fill all the spots.”

But Vet said their business is also having a hard time finding people to apply for their open positions.

“There are a lot of good candidates but everyone’s looking right now, it’s a very competitive market,” Vet said. “We need people desperately.”

As of Friday afternoon, there were 53,860 open positions on LinkedIn, and 11,222 of those positions were just added within the last week.

Some employers with the most openings include UNC Health (2,000), Duke Health (1,277), North Carolina State University (416), and PNC Arena (250).

PNC Arena currently has immediate openings for staff who would work different events which include hockey, basketball, concerts, comedy, and family shows.

Available positions include concession stand attendants, cooks, parking attendants, security, ushers and more.

Local businesses are posting their positions on their websites as well as employer websites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter.

While these businesses are excited to see the economy start to come back, they’re just hoping the workers are ready to come back to the workplace as well.

“As long as we keep moving in the right direction, it feels like we’ll get there eventually,” Hacker said.

To apply for some of the open positions in the Triangle, go to the following websites:

The Oak House: Send resume and availability to jobs@theoakhousenc.com

UNC Health: https://jobs.unchealthcare.org/

Duke Health: https://careers.duke.edu/

PNC Arena: PNCArena.com/Employment

North Carolina State University: https://jobs.ncsu.edu/postings/search

Pie Pushers: Delivery Drivers | Line Cooks

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