Jobless rate goes down as employers seek out workers

Jobs are out there for the taking.

That’s according to labour force experts who celebrate the continued downward trend of the London area’s jobless rate, but express concern over how the many thousands of available openings will be filled.

The London region’s unemployment rate fell in November for the fifth month in a row, to 6.4 per cent from 6.7 per cent one month earlier.

But perhaps more telling is the number of available jobs.

According to Deb Mountenay, executive director of Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning Development Board, there are currently more than 6,300 openings waiting to be filled. In 20 years she said she’s never seen it like this.

“This is everything, right from entry level positions for individuals right on up to senior management positions. Right now employers across the board are looking for people, and they’re looking for people at all different levels within their organization.”

Among the hardest hit industries is the hospitality sector, which saw many workers leave during the pandemic and not return.

Marienbad Restaurant owner Gerry Pribil, who sits on the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association board, said the hospitality sector is desperate for employees.

“A lot of people in our industry, they are interviewing people, they take 20 people and actually only three or four ended up showing up, and it is because there are a lot of opportunities out there, which again is great, but in terms of our industry it is challenging.”

Despite labour force challenges, London Mayor Ed Holder is sounding an optimistic tone when it comes to job growth. He points to the more than 2,600 jobs created in the London area in November, amounting 17 consecutive months of job growth.

“We are on a strong roll, and I applaud the businesses in our community for having the confidence to grow their business, and to open their business, in some cases re-open their business,” said Holder.

Holder said he’s confident the combination of Western University and Fanshawe College graduates, along with workers coming off pandemic benefits will fill the labour force gap.