Amid Layoffs, Job Openings in Health Care, Grocery Stores

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The announcement Wednesday that more Ohio businesses are being forced to close will send more residents to the unemployment line, including nine at Twisted Metal Custom Body Art, Austintown.

“We all knew it was coming,” says Timothy Adair, owner of the tattoo parlor. On Wednesday, Gov. Mike DeWine added tattoo parlors, barbershops, hair and nail salons to the list of nonessential businesses ordered close – a decision Adair says was the smart thing to do.

“I’d rather bite the bullet now and get it over with while everyone in here is healthy and their families are healthy,” Adair says. “For the most part, I don’t know any clientele that comes in that’s sick.”

Twisted Metal employs six tattoo artists – Adair included – as well as one piercer and two apprentices. For supplemental income, one of his employees works part time at the Vienna fire department and others may try to earn extra money with art commission work, including pinstriping vehicles, he says. Others may try to find temporary jobs or file for unemployment.

“Luckily, I have some savings and money I was setting aside to do projects around the house,” he says. “Now, it will probably just go to bills.”

Announcements this week about industries either being ordered closed or restricted have led to greater numbers of individuals seeking unemployment benefits or other financial assistance. Area employers, such as restaurants, have adapted their business models in an effort to keep as many people working as possible, though many have been let go.

As of March 19, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reports 111,055 new unemployment claims had been filed since March 15. That’s up from 3,895 from the week prior.

On Wednesday alone, more than 33,000 claims were filed, the office reports. Individuals can file their claims at Unemployment.ohio.gov or by calling 877 644 6562 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

That sudden influx has created a backlog of claims to be reviewed by Job and Family Services, says Bert Cene, director of the Workforce Development Board of Mahoning and Columbiana counties. It’s also delayed reports on county figures, he says.

“I’m sure you can see that unemployment is up in this area dramatically,” Cene says.

OhioMeansJobs centers are doing what they can to assist residents navigate the unemployment application process, as well as other employment services, such as resume writing and job searches, Cene says. The centers have moved staff members from services that aren’t getting any customers, such as in-house training, to the more appropriate services to increase service capacity, he says.

Although the offices are closed to in-person visits, “We’re trying to work over the phones, the internet, email, whatever we can to maintain services,” he says.

“We’re here to help you all we can,” Cene says. “And hopefully when this thing passes, maybe a lot of these people will go back to work at their employer.”

Dr. Liz Shobel, an audiologist with the Centers for Hearing Care filed for unemployment Monday evening and is still waiting for feedback about her claim. The organization’s seven offices have been closed since the end of business Monday, laying off some 30 employees. The office had to close because some patients weren’t taking the COVID-19 outbreak seriously, she says.

“We ended up with more patients coming in than were even on the schedule when we announced we were trying to eliminate appointments,” Schobel says. “Our clientele is an older population and some are starting to appreciate the fact that we have shut down.”

The center’s staff has remained in touch with each other and with patients via email and phone, she says.

“Even though I’m not working, I’m still having communications with patients and letting them know I’m there for them,” she says. “It’s a difficult time for everybody.”

Sarah’s Cleaning Service had to lay off three of its five employees after a significant drop in business, says owner Sarah Russell. Two of her employees have since filed for unemployment.

“In the past week, we’ve witnessed 96% cancellations,” Russell says. “On the books, we’ve lost a ton of revenue. They don’t want us in their house. They’re quarantining.”

While Russell works to drum up new business – a challenge now that she also has school-aged children at home – she is doing her part to give back by distributing free cleaning kits to people who need them. She assembles them from her inventory of cleaning supplies including Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, towels and bleach. Each kit comes with a free roll of toilet paper.

“It’s just something to give back,” she says.

She gave away five kits on Thursday. Residents can request a kit or schedule a cleaning service by calling 234 600 7251 or contacting Russell through Facebook.com/sarahscleaningyo.

Other business closings include Steel Valley Lifts, which makes the Backyard Buddy. On its website, the company says steel workers and machinists “are on hiatus in our Ohio-based manufacturing headquarters” because of the pandemic.

“Our team is strong. Our sales associates and service team will take your orders and questions from home,” the company states.

On Thursday, Ultra Premium Services issued a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice that it planned a temporary cessation of operations at its Brookfield Township site, 6880 Parkway Drive. The company cites the “sudden, drastic drop in oil prices” and the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the shutdown, resulting in a mass layoff of 121 employees April 17.

As unemployment claims rise, there are job opportunities for those facing layoff as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, primarily in health care and grocery stores.

To meet increased demand at its hospitals and care centers, Mercy Health-Youngstown is looking to hire more than 500 workers, says Arisha Williams, talent acquisition supervisor. Mercy is at full capacity at its three area hospitals, long-term care facilities and nursing homes, she says.

“We are definitely at a point where pretty much all of our beds are full,” she says.

While the health system is always looking for health-care professionals, particularly nurses, it currently has a need for patient care associates, or PCAs, as well as workers in food and environmental services, Williams says.

PCAs are synonymous with nurses aids and provide relief for nursing staff by assisting with bathing and other duties, she says. Ideal candidates for PCA positions are nursing students who have some clinical experience and have been state-tested, she says.

Mercy is also seeing a need in some ancillary areas, including lab testing, lab assistants and imaging, she notes.

“If they have even an interest and want to get into health care, this could be a great way to come in and perform and demonstrate those good customer service skills,” Williams says. “We’d be happy to take them and train them.”

Available positions include part and full time, as well as per diem, or as needed, she says. Interested applicants can apply online at Mercy.com/careers. With the increased need, applicants can expect to hear from Mercy in 24 hours after applying, Williams says.

“Recruiters are on a fast track right now, which means we’re doing rapid response,” she says.

Briarfield senior care centers also have “quite a few positions available on multiple shifts” for registered nurses, state-tested nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses, says director of human resources Liz Repasky.

Hospitality and resident attendant positions are also open, which are nondirect care positions ideal for individuals who are training for a career in nursing, she says. Briarfield is reaching out to those laid off from jobs in the service industry for other nondirect care positions, including dietary, housekeeping and laundry services are also available.

Salary and hours vary depending on the position and the facility, she says. Those interested can view all available jobs at Briarfield.net, or can contact Repasky at 330 726 5790 ext. 201.

“I’ve seen a boost in our applications,” Repasky says. “I really think that people are pulling together. The community at large is pulling together to help out where they can.”

Windsor House Inc. has also posted job openings on social media, including dietary, bookkeeping, activity assistants, housekeeping, maintenance coordinator and van drivers for its senior care centers across the region.

And area grocery stores are in need of clerks. Giant Eagle and Save-a-Lot stores have posted job openings locally.

All 19 area Sparkle markets are in need of clerks, including the seven owned by Vince Furrie, president of the Sparkle board of directors. He can use 10 clerks at his stores, he says. Recently, one of his stores hired three clerks in one day.

“I heard they were in the restaurant business, so they don’t have any job anymore,” he says. Those interested can go to SparkleMarkets.com/about.

As residents stock up on food and other products, it makes for some busy days at the Sparkle stores. “It’s like Christmas times two,” Furrie says.

Furrie says Sparkle’s longevity in the Youngstown market gives him an edge over the competition. Milk, eggs, bread, produce and meat are purchased from suppliers in Ohio.

“I think we’re probably 10- to 15% stocked better than anyone because we always bought local,” he says.

Pictured: Timothy Adair, owner of Twisted Metal in Austintown. The tattoo and body art shop closed Thursday per the state’s orders, laying off nine.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.