By Patrick Thomas, Chip Cutter and Te-Ping Chen
The economy has lost millions of jobs this year. But in many industries, hiring is booming.
Paul Anselmo, chief executive of Evolve Mortgage Services in Frisco, Texas, has hired 120 new home-loan underwriters in the past 90 days and needs to find another 100 by the end of the year. The home-mortgage market is booming, as low interest rates have led millions of Americans to refinance and continued work-from-home policies are incentivizing people to buy new houses.
In Maryland, mortgage company NewDay USA has hired roughly 300 new people during the pandemic and is looking for about another 200 to join by March 2021, the company said. Inlanta Mortgage in Pewaukee, Wis., is also in the market for another 100 experienced workers, including loan underwriters and processors—no college degree required, said Paul Buege, president and chief operating officer.
“We are on the positive side of the economy as a result of what’s happening,” he said.
A two-track recovery is emerging from the country’s pandemic-driven recession as some companies and careers show signs of prospering despite the recession while others in sectors like hospitality fall victim to continued lockdowns and changing consumer behavior.
When the pandemic set in, the U.S. lost 22.2 million jobs in March and April, causing the economy to shrink 31.4% in the second quarter. Since the start of May, employers have added back more than 11 million jobs, with business and hiring booming in some sectors.
In more-normal years, fourth-quarter hiring tends to be dominated by seasonal work at stores in preparation for holiday shopping.
But the current hiring boosts go beyond that need. Last month, Amazon.com Inc. said it planned to hire another 100,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada, as more people stay home and shop online for necessities and other purchases. Amazon added 175,000 warehouse workers in March and April, 125,000 of whom it said it would keep on.
Other big businesses—including cloud-computing companies that help businesses digitize and financial-services firms—are also ramping up fourth-quarter hiring.
Fidelity Investments Inc. needs 4,000 additional workers around the U.S. to fill roles such as customer-service representatives, which don’t require a college degree, and financial advisers. The demand reflects surging stock-market trading volume and an uptick in inquiries from customers about their 401(k)s and other investments during the pandemic, said Bill Ackerman, head of human resources at the firm.
Fidelity’s hiring is up nearly 40% so far this year, as the company adds thousands of other roles in technology and product development. The new jobs are located in cities like Covington, Ky., Merrimack, N.H., and Westlake, Texas. A number of positions don’t require a finance background, Mr. Ackerman said, adding that Fidelity has a record of hiring people with customer-service experience at hotels and restaurants and training them.
ServiceNow Inc., a cloud-computing company, plans to hire roughly 500 new people this quarter, said Chirantan CJ Desai, chief product officer. The engineering and product-development department that he oversees is expected to add at least 275 new hires in roles such as software engineer and product designer, bringing division hiring to 1,300 for the year.
Cloud companies like ServiceNow are experiencing a boom as businesses, governments and universities bolster their digital capabilities amid the Covid-19 crisis, which is pushing more people online.
“For us, that has been a tailwind,” Mr. Desai said.
Customer-service companies are also bulking up. TTEC Holdings Inc. in Colorado provides virtual customer-service staffing for retailers and restaurants. It is hiring 16,000 people around the U.S. and 6,000 internationally for roles that include chatting with clients online, said Chief Executive Ken Tuchman.
“We’re providing that customer interface you’d normally receive in a physical retail environment,” he said. “Even though you might not be able to go into an electronics store, you can still go to their website and talk to a consumer-electronics expert.”
Some companies, like workplace software provider UKG Inc., froze hiring in March to hold down costs as the pandemic upended the economy, but have since returned to filling positions. UKG wants to add dozens of staffers in accounting, cloud operations, engineering, marketing, human resources and finance, said Aron Ain, the company’s chief executive.
“We stopped travel, we stopped hiring—all the things that were very controllable while we just wrapped our arms around what was going on,” Mr. Ain said of the company’s initial spending freezes. “The business is doing better than we thought—actually growing—and we need more people.”
In Champaign, Ill., companies in the manufacturing and food-distribution sector have dramatically ramped up hiring, said Richard Yoerk, who owns a local franchise of Express, a staffing company. His office currently averages around 400 job openings a week, up from about 55 a week before the pandemic.
“It is unprecedented, and we’re having a difficult time filling them,” he said.
His office has hired four new recruiters to try to find more potential workers, Mr. Yoerk said. As a Big Ten college town, Champaign has long had a strong service industry of hotels and other businesses catering to football lovers, a sector that has been decimated, he said. Even so, he isn’t seeing laid-off hospitality workers change industries in large numbers.
“I think some people are genuinely still frightened to return to work,” he said, adding that others have been able to stay home thanks to unemployment benefits.
To try to entice people back, companies are offering better compensation, flexible hours and signing bonuses. Six months ago, the average local pay rate he saw for these types of roles was $10.92 an hour; now it is $14.80.
“Wages are going up faster than it has in the previous 10 years I’ve been in the business,” he said.
Mr. Yoerk’s recruiters have attempted everything from online job fairs to social-media ads with hit-or-miss results. One drive-through job fair was open for five hours, but only two cars stopped by. The amount of time it takes to fill a position has jumped from two days to five, he added.
“We know there are plenty of people in the market—we just have to incentivize them to get to work,” Mr. Yoerk said.
SOURCE : WALL STREET JOURNAL