Getting back to work
Aaron Evans of Beach Park, Martin Griffin of Libertyville, Daniel Reese of Waukegan, Mike Wilson of Libertyville, Michelle Wilson of Lake Villa, Gerson Sancho of Beach Park and Glen Jackson of Kenosha, Wis., stand inside Overture Premiums & Promotions in
Updated: December 7, 2012 7:27PM
Unemployment rates in Lake County are falling, and state officials say it’s not because of holiday hiring.
“About 70 percent of the economy is based on consumer confidence,” said Greg Rivara, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security. “Consumer confidence is, in fact, increasing. The unemployment rate is improving because the overall economy is growing.”
Two local staffing agencies agree that employment trends are looking better.
Libertyville-based Express Employment Professionals announced a goal to have at least 100 people hired by members of the GLMV Chamber of Commerce between Dec. 10 and Dec. 16.
Owner Steve Bowman said the initiative is pushing for full-time jobs. If the work is temporary, Bowman said the employers are being asked to offer referrals or letters of recommendation.
More than 3,000 companies in the Libertyville, Mundelein, Vernon Hills area were reached through Bowman’s marketing, and just over 100 had responded as of Monday.
Bowman said about 25 percent of his hires are “direct hires,” when a company is looking for candidates and needs the process done quickly. Fifteen percent of hires are for temporary work: vacation fill-ins or project work.
About 60 percent of Bowman’s hiring involves 90-day trial periods, in which the employee is on Express Employment Professionals’ payroll until the client is comfortable making the official hire.
Vernon Hills-based Manpower has a similar program.
Branch Manager Jon Anderson said he has more jobs than candidates, and most of his office’s labor goes toward matching qualifications to the jobs descriptions.
“We have a lot of clients experiencing growth, but they’re hesitant to assume liabilities like unemployment premiums and medical benefits,” Anderson said. “They worry about what next year will look like.”
To remedy those concerns, Manpower also is willing to employ candidates and place them in a company until management is comfortable taking the payroll.
During those trial periods, prospective employers pay Manpower or Express Employment Professionals the salary or wage.
Michelle Wilson of Lake Villa was one of those employees. She worked at the Walgreens corporate office in Deerfield for 22 years, in accounts payable and then the advertising and billing departments.
The company was reorganizing and she accepted a buyout for fear that her job would be eliminated. She spent about four years as a stay-at-home mom until finances grew tighter.
Manpower placed her at Vernon Hills-based Overture Premiums & Promotions, a marketing and novelty merchant. Wilson, a warehouse worker, said she was nervous on Day 30 because past assignments were canceled that early.
After going 90 days, Overture offered her a full-time job. The company has about a dozen other “trial” or full-time employees hired from Manpower.
Manpower and Express Employment Professionals said they’ve had applicants on payroll for several years before the client company made the official hire.
Rivara said IDES studies indicate similar hiring skepticism statewide.
“Though we do have economic growth, hiring will not increase as much because currently employed people are being given more hours,” Rivara said.
Much like how the staffing agencies say their employment opportunities go beyond manual labor or temporary jobs, the IDES job board has also grown.
Rivara said IDES recently helped Walgreens hire an administrator and also helped Argonne National Laboratory hire a scientist.
For those who take seasonal jobs while applying for permanent jobs, Rivara said the “season” is growing longer.
“Retail stores are starting to keep seasonal workers into January now because the competitive market has led to more returns,” Rivara said. “Somebody has to man the ‘customer service’ counters and restock the products.”
Rivara said the hospitality industry is also holding seasonal workers longer because many corporations now avoid holding seminars or meetings at hotels during the holiday rush.
“The economy is not improving at a rate acceptable to society, but it is on an upward trend and that’s a positive,” Rivara said.