Area labor analyst calls it a sign of a strong economy
OWEGO — Just eight days after Sanmina Corp. announced it would be shutting down its facility in Owego, 32 companies took part in a job fair to recruit from among the 274 workers employed at the printed circuit-board plant.
That’s a good indication of the strength of the economy in the region, says Christian Harris, a labor market analyst at the New York State Department of Labor who is focused on the Southern Tier. “There are 336 active openings in production, warehousing and transportation just in Broome and Tioga County,” he says.
Sanmina announced in December that it would lay off 161 of 274 employees starting March 7. In early March, the company delayed many of the layoffs saying it was down to 203 employees.
Dozens of Sanmina workers have already found employment elsewhere, many with other manufacturers, says Sheri McCall, manager of the Tioga Career Center. She says there were employers that attended the pop-up job fair that got exactly what they came for. “Some were able to fill all their open positions with Sanmina people.”
It’s not just Sanmina employees who are attracting interest. At the annual job fair that the Tioga County Business Services Team held on March 7, a total of 109 employers came looking to recruit.
“It’s a labor market that’s at the upper end of the economic cycle,” says Harris. He says employers may be updating their hiring practices in reaction to the stronger market. Not long ago, he says, employers demanded “a perfect fit” before they would make a hire. In this market, they are willing to consider people who might need training or other types of investment. “Now they are willing to overcome barriers,” he says.
How long the demand for labor continues to be strong — Harris calls it a “labor crunch” — isn’t certain. Harris did venture that, given the trends he sees, he expects the economy will keep “chugging along” for another “solid year.”
That bodes well for the job prospects of workers still set to be let go from Sanmina. In its latest filing with the state, the California–headquartered company said it expects to let go of the last workers at its Owego facility by the end of July.