Jobs remain open as unemployment claims soar

Posted at 4:44 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 20:38:41-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The staggering number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits is continuing to soar.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that an additional 6.6 million Americans sought jobless benefits for the first time last week. That brings the total amid coronavirus shutdowns to more than 16 million people.

In San Diego County, the workforce partnership estimates the coronavirus restrictions could cost upwards of 350,000 workers their jobs - most of them in retail, restaurants and hotels.

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Abby Heilbron lost her job as director of sales for Eppig Brewing, which has been reduced to curbside pickup because of the coronavirus outbreak. She filed for unemployment and is waiting for a $450 weekly payment from the state, plus $600 in federal stimulus funds.

She says applying has been hard amid a crowded online system.

"It feels like the DMV on the internet," Heilbron said. "It's me times a million-plus people doing this and the system isn't built for that kind of volume."

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Meanwhile, jobs are available in San Diego County in a range of fields - though they are filling up fast.

On Thursday, Vons and Albertsons reported they had just over 100 jobs available. About two weeks ago, there were more than 1,000 open in the county.

Scripps Health says it has 470 positions open and is hiring for essential workers. Qualcomm says it hired 500 people in March, and is onboarding new employees virtually.

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Rachel Merfalen, director of business development at the Workforce Partnership, said there were additional positions at hardware stores and with delivery services. She said many of the jobs in health care require no previous experience, such as with home health companies and retail pharmacies.

The partnership's jobs portal has 237 open positions in San Diego.

Another option is to go through temp agencies. Phil Blair, who heads Manpower San Diego, said he just hired 100 entry level workers for a medical device manufacturing job that paid about $15 per hour.

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"The questions we'll be asking you are, can you stand for eight hours? do you have eye-hand dexterity? are you ready to focus on repetitious work? those are all skills," Blair said.

Blair added he also is seeing demand for high-skilled workers in technology fields.