With economy opening back up, La. and national businesses looking for employees

Businesses now hiring with loosened COVID restrictions

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Are you looking for a job? Signs have been popping up outside businesses all across the Baton Rouge area that read, “Now Hiring.”

It’s another effect of things reopening.

According to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the unemployment rate for the nine parishes in the area is 6.2%, which is down a half percent since February. Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was around 4%.

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As more people get out of the house and more local businesses fully open back up, that need for workers is growing.

“We’re just trying to find some worthwhile people to work for us, people who want to show up,” said Fred Taylor, owner of Poor Boy Lloyd’s on Florida Street in downtown Baton Rouge.

Taylor said COVID-19 changed everything about how he runs his business.

“Well, what it is, we’ve lost a lot of people during the pandemic when business was down and now, hopefully, it looks like it’s coming back,” Taylor added.

“I think you’ve also reached a point where people want to work,” said Andrew Fitzgerald with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “They’ve spent a year watching Netflix and Amazon, and there comes a point where it’s time to get back to life; it’s time to restart your career, wherever that may be. I also think people had the opportunity to get some short-term training. We put on a short-term training guide about midway last year - a class at BRCC or other training providers where you can just take one or two classes and have a new skill and a new job available to you. I think we’re starting to see people look for new employment in new areas, outside from where they were before.”

Fitzgerald said there are currently lots of openings in the Baton Rouge area in fields like healthcare and logistics, such as truck drivers.

But because weekly unemployment benefits were extended until September as part of the American Rescue Plan, larger companies are looking to entice potential employees to get back to work.

“We offer opportunities for advancement, next-day pay, scholarship opportunities, flexible scheduling, and many more,” said Megan Pratt, director of marketing for Valuzzo Companies LLC.

Valuzzo Companies LLC owns and operates many McDonald’s franchises in the area and it is looking for workers as well.

“With the economy opening back up, we are looking to expand our crew in order to better serve our Baton Rouge community as we open up indoor dining and additional venues to provide food to each one of our neighbors,” Pratt added.

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As for Taylor at Poor Boy Lloyd’s, he’s just looking for a few qualities in his future employees.

“Dependable people. People that are going to show up and work,” Taylor explained.

Taylor is also hopeful that as more state employees return to work in-person downtown, it will mean more money for his business.

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