UPDATE: Employers add 467K jobs despite economists predicting report to be the worst in years

ORANEG COUNTY, Fla. — UPDATE: U.S. employers added a burst of 467,000 in January despite a surge in omicron cases, the Associated Press reported.

Economists predicted January’s job report to be the worst in years.

The AP reported that the strong hiring gain demonstrates the eagerness of many employers to hire even as the pandemic maintains its grip on the economy.

Previous coverage:

Friday’s jobs report is predicted to be the worst in years, with hundreds of thousands of jobs lost as omicron took its toll on worker numbers across the nation.

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Whatever the numbers do say, they are expected to be a blip on Central Florida’s radar.

The Orlando metro area is still dealing with a massive worker shortage brought about by post-pandemic economic growth. Recruiters say nearly every industry is expanding and hiring in the city, making competition to recruit and retain employees tough.

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“There are just fewer people in the market actively looking for work,” Career Source Central Florida President Pam Nabors said.

While some of the shortage can be attributed to young people delaying looking for their first job, Nabors said the areawide growth, plus a mass exodus of baby boomers from the workforce, is cutting down the number of people clocking in.

For all its housing woes, Orlando is going to need more outsiders to move in if state workforce data is accurate. Projections show that Central Florida will need 210,000 additional workers by 2025 — enough for a small skyscraper’s worth of families to move to the region every single day for almost three years.

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That’s on top of retirees, college students and remote workers who don’t contribute to the local labor force, and above the 1,000-workers-per-week influx these days.

Nabors said companies are going to have to change their hiring practices instead of complaining that no one is applying. More money helps, but she said post-pandemic workers are looking for additional perks, including flexible working environments, a better work-life balance and a strong and supportive company culture.

Orlando resident Dominic Dunn was one of the many people who recently left his job. The former distribution worker was burned out by the lack of support from the corporate office and from having to call customers to tell them their shipments were delayed.

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“I got paid very handsomely,” he said. “I think we were handcuffed during the pandemic, especially with big companies with pay cuts and all that good stuff, and I care more about my sanity than a dollar.”

Now, he works in the billiards industry, where he’s happier and able to make a living. He also spends more time with his one-year-old daughter.

“It was the perfect timing so I could raise her,” he explained.

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Due to the rare power that workers have in today’s job market, Nabors advised them to focus on more than their salary. She said benefits like working from home can be negotiated with companies that are desperate enough for talent, as long as the job makes it possible.

“There’s lots of opportunities for those job seekers right now and they should take advantage of that,” she said.


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