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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Where The Jobs Are

Courtesy of National Cancer Institute
Health care remains one of the Charlotte region's fastest-growing sectors. It is trying to fill jobs, as are companies in financial services, delivery and call centers.

The job losses are staggering: About 3.3 million people filed for jobless claims nationally last week, including about 100,000 in North Carolina. And more could be on the way.

Hearing that information, it can be easy to think that pretty much every business in town is either laying people off or putting expansions on hold. The effect of this crisis is rippling through just about every sector of the economy.

While many industries are suffering, though, others are booming. As our lifestyles have shifted overnight, so too has the country’s economy. Businesses feeling the most pain are those that used to fuel our on-the-go lives. The ones that are suddenly thriving are those built to serve a nation of homebodies.

And some of those companies are hiring. They’re not bringing on enough people to make up for the staggering number of job losses. But they provide possibilities and hope for those tens of thousands of people in the Charlotte region who will now be looking for work.

A quick look at job-hunting websites provides a glimpse into some of the possibilities in Charlotte: A forklift operator at Frito-Lay. An underwriter with a title insurance company. A warehouse worker for Amazon. Cashiers for Harris Teeter, Aldi and Fresh Market. A receptionist for a medical office. Those are all jobs tied to our quickly changing circumstances, ones that serve our needs for food and goods and the supply chains behind those, as well as for healthcare and financial services.

Marian Tison, vice president of enterprise accounts in the Charlotte office of staffing agency TalentBridge, says her company has seen a “surge” of activity in the last few weeks, as employers now scramble to fill jobs that are in high demand. Call centers are big, she says. So are financial services jobs connected to mortgages — where the rates are hitting rock bottom — and loan underwriting, as companies seek more money to stay afloat.

“Financial services, those will continue to be essential,” she says. “The jobs that will stick will be those in support of medical work and electronic health care, health records, and in the customer service space.”

New way to interview: While the nature of the jobs is changing, so is the way job-seekers are interviewing for them. A few weeks ago, about 10% of job applicants went though a virtual interview. Now, almost all do, Tison says: “There is still a learning curve there. If you’ve always sat down with somebody for an hour in person, you have to overcome that.”

Here are some of the hot segments in Charlotte that are hiring:

1. Grocery. In the last few weeks, there has been a remarkable shift toward shopping at grocery stores, as anybody who has visited one lately can attest. Harris Teeter said this week it is hiring 5,000 workers. Other grocers are adding people, too.

2. Delivery. By now, it has been well-documented that local restaurants are turning to delivery. But retailers are, too. Amazon said last week that it is hiring about 1,500 jobs in the Charlotte region.

3. Warehousing. Charlotte has long been a distribution hub, but that is poised to expand even more now, as retailers and others are being forced to shift even more rapidly toward online orders and the supply chains behind them.

4. Mortgage. Mortgage rates fell to a 50-year low three weeks ago, and many mortgage brokers are struggling to keep up with demand for refinancing and the associated paperwork and backgrounding. Neither of Charlotte’s big banks, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, says it is expanding in those areas, but that could change if rates continue to stay low as expected.

5. Customer service. With so many changes in so many aspects of our lives, people have a lot of questions for companies these days — and a lot of time on their hands to ask them. Some employers are beefing up their customer service operations, particularly in financial services and healthcare.

6. Health care. Health care was a growing industry before the coronavirus arrived, and that need seems to be growing.&nbspAtrium Health lists 995 jobs in Charlotte on its website. Novant Health lists 723. And there are surely hundreds more in doctors’ offices.

Overall, there are still fewer new jobs available than there used to be.

According to an analysis of job postings in Charlotte for The Ledger by ZipRecruiter, an online jobs marketplace, the number of active job postings has fallen 13% in the last four weeks. Ordinarily, jobs postings keep rising through March and into the summer, a company spokesman told The Ledger. Job postings started falling about the third week of February. The most jobs with ZipRecruiter in Charlotte are in hospitals and in manufacturing, the company said.

Local economists believe that the Charlotte region is well-positioned to bounce back after the health crisis ends. It won’t happen overnight, and some jobs won’t return. But there are some available for the taking, right now.

How to find a job: Many big companies have their own job-search engines on their websites. Other common online sources include LinkedInIndeed.comZipRecruiter and CareerBuilder, or you can go to a staffing agency such as TalentBridge.

This post first appeared in the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter. It is reprinted with permission.