Unemployment is high, but these industries are hiring

Even as unemployment continues to soar amidst the Covid-19 shutdown, a wide array of companies and industries are still hiring. For some, the rising fortunes are a result of the virus itself. Now, a reopening economy is driving expansion for others. 
In June, the state’s labor force increased by 31,100 people and the number of employed people rose by 118,100. The number of jobs rose 150,200 – an increase of 250,000 over the previous two months, according to the Georgia Department of Labor statistics.  
Metro Atlanta jobs have benefited from a diverse economy, said Grant Wainscott, vice president of ecosystem expansion at the Metro Atlanta Chamber.  
“We're not dependent just on one particular industry, like oil and gas,” said Wainscott. Some of the industries doing well include tech and manufacturing, for example, he added. “When some are struggling, like travel, tourism, sports, and conferences, these other bright points have helped lessen the impacts.” 
The job growth comes as a welcome contrast to pandemic-devastated industries such as hotels and foodservice. From March 21 to July 4, the state processed 723,000 unemployment claims in those areas. Job losses in health care and social assistance produced 348,000, while retail sent 330,000 workers into the unemployment lines, according to Kersha Cartwright, director of communications at the Georgia Department of Labor.  
As industries such as hospitality and lodging have struggled, other industries are doing well, some in response to demands created by the pandemic itself.  
Along with processing millions of unemployment claims, the state is also posting growing numbers of jobs. In mid-July, its EmployGeorgia website was listing 119,000 openings, up 3,000 from the day before.  
Among the types of jobs being filled are accounting specialists, marketing communications managers, and security guards. Among the offerings: Amazon needs employees in the warehouse, sales, marketing, software/IT, customer service, and account representation. Americold is looking for warehouse workers and supervisors. Coca-Cola Bottling Co., United has openings for clerks, material handlers and forklift drivers.  
Other companies in various industries also are seeking workers, including Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s plasma manufacturing plant near Covington, Ga. The plant, which Takeda acquired when it acquired Dublin, Ireland-based Shire last year, currently employs more than 1,000 full-time and contract employees at its $1.2 billion facilities.   
“We're still hiring pretty steadily,” said Gabe Khouli, head of site communications for Takeda, which is continuing hiring in manufacturing, quality control, engineering, maintenance, utilities, warehouse, and support and facility roles. Takeda’s plasma collection centers have become more important, as the company develops a blood-plasma-derived therapy against the coronavirus.   
The Georgia facility will eventually employ about 1,500 workers as it continues to gain FDA approval for its products. In addition to the plant, the company operates eight plasma collections centers throughout the state, said Khouli.  
Also related to pandemic hiring, the CDC Foundation, which supports the work of the federal U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is hiring about 1,000 doctors and other specialized healthcare personnel.  
The scope of this public health crisis far exceeds the demands of previous disease outbreaks such as Ebola, Zika, and the recent opioid crisis, when the Foundation mobilized 95 physicians, said Judy Monroe, CEO, and president of the CDC Foundation.  
“We've just never seen anything like this,” said Monroe. “This has to be the biggest response in which we've been involved, in terms of hiring.” 
The foundation is about a third of the way through its hiring process and expects to have completed its staffing in September. The jobs will be spread out over 65 jurisdictions including all 50 states, tribal organizations, territories, and a half dozen large cities, Monroe added. Many tech companies, too, are hiring. Steady is an app that connects users with listings for part-time, hourly, and on-demand work. The company itself is growing rapidly and adding staff, according to its founder and CEO Adam Roseman.  
In less than two years, Steady has acquired 2.1 million registered users across the country with about 100,000 in metro Atlanta, he said. About 80% of users are hourly workers and the rest are gig workers. The company employs about 55 people evenly split between Atlanta and Los Angeles, along with a few remote workers, and expects to add about 20 more employees over the next six months, according to Roseman. 
“Our main hiring right now is in the area of data and data science,” said Roseman. “So much of what we do is around giving people the right guidance on how they can earn better, and that comes down to how effective our data is.”  
While the pandemic has spurred business, some companies are growing as a result of sound business fundamentals.  
Graphic Packaging International is a public company with $6.2 billion in sales in 2019. It provides paper packaging for companies like Kraft Heinz, General Mills, Kellogg's, ABN Bev. Molson Coors, and fast-food chains such as McDonald's, Starbucks, and Dunkin.  
“When Covid-19 happened, consumers stocked their pantries,” said McCann. “We provide about 40 percent of that consumer packaging across the United States, so that was a big uplift for us.” 
The upsurge in demand from these customers offset a drop in orders from facilities that had to shut down due to the pandemic, such as restaurants, entertainment venues, stadiums, and schools, McCann said. 

June Unemployment 
  • Georgia: 7.6% 
  • National: 11.1% 
Sectors with the largest monthly job gains (June) 
  • Accommodation and Food Services 
  • Retail Trade 
  • Administrative and Support Services
Statewide Job Losses (March-April) 
  • Leisure and Hospitality: 208,600 
  • Professional and Business Services: 67,000 
  • Education and Health Services: 51,500 
Source: Georgia Department of Labor statistics