Forecast for July 28: Job Monsoon, blowing fresh air into city labor woes

Tempe businesses, like Lotions & Potions on Mill Avenue, will display green balloons on Wednesday, July 28, to to indicate that they have job openings as part of the city’s Job Monsoon program. — Photos by Noah Kutz for wranglernews.com

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Heavy rain and wind aren’t the only monsoon storms to hit Tempe this summer.

The job market has sprung a monsoon of its own, thanks to Tempe’s efforts to help business owners weather a troubling job shortfall.

According to planners, as many as 100 companies across the city are desperately searching for qualified staffers to fill their openings, and Tempe Mayor Corey Woods’ team says it’s geared to make sure that this “job monsoon” starts raining cash for applicants as well as employers.

Tempe and its partners are offering this first-of-its-kind job fair, Tempe Job Monsoon, on Wednesday, July 28, with every employer in the city able to participate from their own business.

During the Tempe Job Monsoon, businesses across Tempe will put out green balloons and Job Monsoon signs showing that they are hiring. Job seekers can walk into any of those businesses, fill out a resume, and likely get an interview (and maybe a job) on the spot. When the positions are filled, the sign and balloons come down. This unique job fair allows short-staffed businesses to spend time with customers and lets candidates see their potential work environment.

Participants in the Tempe Job Monsoon on Wednesday, July 28, will display green balloons outside to tell job seekers that they are hiring.

“Our community cares about our residents and our businesses,” Woods said. “The Tempe Job Monsoon will help everyone thrive by connecting applicants with employment opportunities across the city.”

As people begin to feel more confident after the COVID-19 pandemic and they flood the tourism industry, many hotels and resorts have been forced to deny reservations due to staffing shortages.

“Our economy is on the verge of fully recovering from the pandemic and we want to ensure that Tempe’s businesses are able to build back stronger — and better,” said Tempe Tourism Office President and CEO Brian McCartin. “But for the hospitality industry, this cannot be fully realized until we get our work force back into the shops, restaurants, hotels and related businesses.”

Some small-business owners struggle to retain their employees for longer than a few months.

“We are now the oldest family-owned restaurant in the city of Tempe,” said Julia Cox of Rosita’s Fine Mexican Food. “I have personally never seen anything so quick in turnover.”

Cox says that, after the four generations that her family has owned and operated the local Mexican food chain, something has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t think people expect to actually work to do something when they come back now,” she said. “So actually, having to do something and expecting them to fulfill the duties is really hard even though we make it as easy as we can for them.”

Cox acknowledged the restaurant is a stepping stone to other employment for their employees, especially in a college town like Tempe.

According to Woods, a certain disconnect could be rising between the kinds of employment that people want and the jobs that are available.

This, however, is why the Job Monsoon could make a great impact on the community.

“I think this is a real way to not only identify ways to get people existing jobs but also sometimes to prepare people for kind of the evolution of what some of these jobs are going to look like,” Woods said.

More information and list of participating businesses: Tempe.gov/JobMonsoon.

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