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Biennial survey shows Jefferson County employers plan to hire

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Nearly half of the employers in Jefferson County plan to hire workers in the next two years, according to a biennial survey conducted by the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency from March 7 to May 1.

According to the survey — which included 76 employers in Jefferson County — 44.4 percent plan to increase their staff in the next two years; 41.7 predict their staff will stay the same, while 13.9 expect to have fewer employees.

Those results are much improved compared with the 2011 survey, which had 81 respondents that included employers from Lewis County. Results in 2011 showed that only 23.1 percent of employers planned to add to their staff over the next two years; 62.8 percent predicted their staff would stay the same, and 14.1 percent thought they would downsize.

“The largest driver may be the rebounding national economy,” said Donald C. Alexander, JCIDA CEO. “Our local companies have to have a setting in which they can feel optimistic, and this strong economic comeback gives them the that. We also have strong employment numbers locally, and I think employers are going to hire more. We’ve just begun to open up the spigot.”

The April unemployment rate in Jefferson County was 10.3 percent, according to the state Department of Labor, an increase from 10.2 percent in April 2012. The statewide rate decreased from 8.1 to 7.3 percent over the same period.

In reality, employers in the region were favored with more success than they predicted for 2011 and 2012. Among respondents in the 2013 survey, 42.5 percent said they added jobs in the past two years, 38.4 percent said their staff stayed the same and 19.2 percent said they now have fewer employees.

The total number of temporary, seasonal, part- and full-time employees represented in the 2013 survey was 11,405, based on 73 respondents who answered that question. The total reported in 2011 was 10,059, based on 80 respondents. Compared with 2011, results from 2013 show the average base salary of employees increased by 3.1 percent.

Surveys from 2013 and 2011 may be viewed at http://www.jcida.com/reportsandpublications.php.

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