Next steps for displaced workers

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With the expiration of expanded unemployment benefits, many of West Michigan’s unemployed job seekers have questions about their options.

August began with no agreement from congressional negotiators on a relief package for unemployed Americans. In West Michigan, that’s nearly 100,000 people who may not know how best to move forward.

West Michigan Works! is encouraging individuals who are thinking about rejoining the workforce to contact us. We can help determine next steps to get you back to work.

We spent the last decade climbing out of the Great Recession into full employment, but the past five months have taken us back to 2009 levels of unemployment. Unlike the recession in 2009, not all industries are being equally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies are not only hiring but seeing a greater demand for talent.

A breakdown of our Weekly Hot Jobs, a list of current openings in high-demand industries, shows the highest concentration of job opportunities in the manufacturing sector, followed closely by professional and administrative positions. Other sectors in the region seeing a demand for talent are health care, IT, retail and construction.

We know that job searching can be intimidating at the best of times, and when you add the realities of a global pandemic, it can be extremely unsettling. It is natural to have feelings of uncertainty and a lot of questions. Our staff is ready to help you identify which companies are hiring, how to apply, what to expect during virtual interviews and provide training. We will walk you through those unknowns and provide you with the best advice possible to move forward.

Jacob Maas is the CEO of West Michigan Works!, the workforce development agency for Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa counties.

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