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Help Wanted Signs Going Up As Economy Shows Improvement

Associated Press/Jeff Chiu, File

Here is how the COVID economic cookie has crumbled for McCormick & Company, the spice people, headquartered in Hunt Valley in Baltimore County.

Edna Manuud, McCormick’s talent acquisition director, said the part of their business that supplies restaurants dipped. But on the other hand, shoppers hit the spice section at the grocery store pretty hard.

“A lot of people started cooking at home so they’re buying more of our products. And then for instance, chips and pretzels had like 186 percent growth,” Manuud said. “And we supply the flavor to those chips.”

So demand is up and Manuud said McCormick, Baltimore County’s biggest manufacturer, is hiring. Over the next couple of months, Manuud said they expect to hire nearly 300 people.

Manuud said, “Those openings would be like production technicians, maintenance, distribution, warehouse technicians.”

Manuud was part of a webinarBaltimore County put together on who is hiring.

700,000 Marylanders have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 economy.

However, some area businesses are hiring again. That’s reflected in last week’s U.S. Department of Labor’s report that the nation’s economy added 2.5 million jobs in May.

People staying home is fueling the construction industry, according to Roseanne Fish with the Maryland Department of Labor.

“We’re seeing that projects are being moved up because there has been less traffic on the roads and less people in the buildings so it’s made it easier for the workers to get in there and really do what they need to do,” Fish said.

Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson is also hiring across the board, from nursing to housekeeping.

“We’re reopening just like everybody else is,” said Matt Ayers, the director of talent acquisition at GBMC.  

According to county officials, nearly 46,000 jobs were lost in health care and social assistance in March and April.

Ayers said if you’re looking for a job right now, be prepared for the Zoom interview. And if you’ve never done that, it can be a little weird.

“Practice with somebody,” Ayers said. “They could pretend to be the hiring manager. Because you’ll get more used to that feeling of seeing that picture in the lower corner and be better when you present.”

The old face-to-face rules still apply. Dress appropriately. Show up early. Look the employer in the eye via the screen.

Job interviews were already going virtual pre-pandemic, according to Kenya Taylor, who owns Express Employment Professionals in Towson.

“Because we know that there are barriers in transportation,” Taylor said. “People have difficulty getting to interviews so we wanted to remove that.”

Taylor said she’s had job openings that have gone unfilled.

“I know everyone does not want to work in a pandemic,” Taylor said. “And those are the conversations that I have to have now. Are you ok with working in a pandemic? Are you OK with interviewing in a pandemic?”

County Economic Development Director Will Anderson said some people who are out of work are uneasy about looking for a job, but he added that will fade with time.

Anderson believes this is the month the county will begin to see a reversal, with the economy heading toward adding more jobs than it is losing.

“Much of it matters on what your reopening plan looks like and which businesses are allowed to come online, but what we’re seeing is, we’re seeing a lot of hope that the summer is where we turn things around,” Anderson said.

Baltimore County’s reopening plan turns to restaurants this weekend.

People who work in that industry have been especially hard hit, with no inside dining allowed.

One block of Pennsylvania Avenue in Towson will be closed this weekend so several restaurants can offer outside table dining in the street. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said this was worked out between the county and the Towson Chamber of Commerce.

“We look forward to working with other chambers and other businesses around the county to identify similar places where this program might be beneficial,” Olszewski said.

More than 84,000 jobs were lost in March and April in the county’s accommodations and food services industry, which includes restaurants are part of that group.

You can find job listings at baltimorecountybusiness.com.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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