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Is it an employers' market?Especially for certain skill sets, there are slimmer pickings than the jobless rate might lead you to believe

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The number of skilled and available people who can perfectly fill open positions today and are willing to work at certain wage levels might not be as large as the still-elevated unemployment situation might indicate.

Even if unemployment were at 10 percent, it still would mean a staffing agency has only 10 percent of the workforce from which to find temp workers, said Jim Carchidi, executive vice president with Cumberland County-based JFC Temps Inc., JFC Medical Inc. and JFC Pro Temps Inc., doing business as JFC Global Co.

The firms, cumulatively known as JFC Staffing Cos., recruit and place full-time and temporary workers.

People who are employed full time aren't going to pursue a temp situation, Carchidi said. And the pool tends to shrink even more because it's more likely people with in-demand skills are not among the unemployed.

It's probably not an employers' market anymore, he said.

One issue today is that a client might come to JFC seeking a person with computer-numerical control skills that are in demand, but they will want to pay less than market value, Carchidi said.

JFC needs to educate the employer about the market situation so it is willing to pay enough, or it needs to tell the client it can't help them, he said.

Even if people with skills will start working for the lower wage, they probably won't stay for long, Carchidi said.

"That sets us up for failure as well as (the employer)," Carchidi said. "We have to have that conversation with the skilled trades clientele very often."

For the most part, clients are listening, he said.

On the other hand, the recruiters for full-time positions can pull from the entire workforce, Carchidi said.

And there are a lot of people out there who could be interested in making a move, he said, but it's still a long, grinding process to identify these people.

Workers who might want to make a move don't want to make their interests public in an era where everyone creates an online trail.

So one of the most effective ways to identify prospects is through the calls JFC makes to people to perform reference checks for other job-placement candidates.

Getting called by a recruitment agency plants a seed, and many people call back to say they are looking to make a move — or they speak up during the initial call, he said.

The number of positions that clients of Aerotek Inc. want to fill in Central Pennsylvania has been steadily increasing, said John Rudy, Northeast regional vice president. Aerotek is an operating company of Maryland-based Allegis Group Inc.

He attributed the trend to both growth in the region in the manufacturing and distribution sector — tilted to the distribution side — and firms seeking more-flexible employment situations to fill their needs as uncertainty continues in the economy.

"We're no longer just supplementing their staff. I think in a lot of cases we are becoming a good portion of their staff," Rudy said.

He also said that, while Aerotek is doing a good job at finding the right talent, the "talent war" here is as tough as anywhere in the Northeast.

One challenge is that more companies are unable to provide training, so it limits the selection process, Rudy said.

Many are determined to make sure that a candidate is 100 percent right for the job as opposed to hiring someone who is close and then providing appropriate training, he said.

Activity also has been up for Dauphin County-based Abel Personnel Inc. Some client businesses that hadn't done business with the firm for a few years are coming back, said Deborah Abel, company president.

A strong area for the firm is filling customer service positions, and clients have been seeking more people for medical billing as well as administrative and executive assistant spots recently, Abel said.

The firm also has a new division serving school district needs such as for substitute teachers and nurses, she said.

It is difficult to find people for certain jobs, including customer service, Abel said.

Some companies have kept their wage scales the same for some time, and people who are looking for work might not feel it's enough to come off unemployment benefits, she said.

Clients who have increased their wage scales have a better time filling positions, Abel said.

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