Rhode Island job market shifts as unemployment benefit ends

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The end of the $600 unemployment benefit means things are busy at Skills for Rhode Island’s Future, an organization that matches employers with potential employees.

“We have seen a significant uptick in the number of folks calling us to help them get a job,” said Nina Pande, the organization’s director. “We’ve seen a surge in calls, we’ve had a surge of activity on our social media page, and the number of applicants coming through to access our service to help pivot them to their next job or career.”

She has they have about 2,500 jobs ranging from entry-level to management, at companies in different industries including health care and manufacturing.

One of those companies is Silgan Dispensing of Slatersville, which makes packaging for products like hand sanitizer.

“We’ve got so much demand for all our products that it’s really hard for us to keep up,” said Patrick Brannon, the company’s vice president of operations and innovation. “So we’ve been out there trying to find people that are interested in working.”

Some of the debate around the unemployment benefit centers on whether it makes more financial sense for people to go back to work or if they make more money staying on the benefit.

Pande says she’s not as concerned about that, because she’s seeing the hourly wage increase here by more than two dollars an hour in a short amount of time.

“Many of the jobs are paying better than what we’ve seen,” she said. “It’s partly due because many essential retailers, many of our healthcare workers are getting what we’re calling surge wages, or additional wages for going into high-risk environments.”

Pande says she hopes COVID-19 creates an appreciation not only for those essential jobs, but for the jobs of the future.

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island