Unemployment rates remain high; staffing agencies say it’s not due to lack of jobs

FALL RIVER, M.A. (WLNE) — Unemployment rates in Massachusetts and Rhode Island remain high, some 8 months into the pandemic, but local staffing agencies say it’s not due to a lack of jobs.

Many say it’s hard to find anyone willing to work temporary or seasonal jobs this year.

“This paycheck from the government is really not helping,” said Carlos Asian, a manager at Monroe Staffing Agency in Fall River.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts’ unemployment rate is 9.6%, ninth highest in the country.

In Fall River, the current unemployment rate is just under 15%, compared to roughly 4% this time last year.

Many staffing agencies in the South Coast region say a lack of motivation is to blame.

“They are still making more money [on unemployment] than they are actually going to work,” explained Asian.

Massachusetts residents who qualify for unemployment are allowed to collect up to 50% of their most recent average weekly salaries.

During the summer months, they were allowed to collect up to $600 on top of that, money granted through the CARES Act then later through the Lost Wages Assistance Program.

“They’re not looking to make $13-14 an hour, when they’re at home making approximately $700-800 per week,” said Asian.

Even as supplemental federal money has run its course for now, agencies tell us candidates are still being picky, since there is a surplus of positions open, as companies try to get back on track.

Another issue is public transit. Many bus and train routes have been slashed due to the pandemic, and employees are being pickier with shift times.

However, the issues aren’t just limited to Massachusetts, as Rhode Island also finds itself on the top 10 list for unemployment rates.

Currently, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate is 10.5%, third highest in the country.

(c) WLNE-TV // ABC 6  2020

Categories: Fall River, News, Regional News