State offers resources to help Michigan employers fill vacant positions

Employers struggle to fill positions as state reopens amid pandemic

In this Wednesday, June 10, 2020 photo, a waitress, wearing a mouth mask to protect against the spread of coronavirus, works at the Bar du Matin restaurant in Brussels. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco) (Francisco Seco, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Tons of businesses are hiring across Metro Detroit as the state begins to reopen this summer -- but those jobs are not getting filled as quickly as companies would like.

On Thursday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a new plan to use federal funding to jumpstart the state’s economy and help employers fill vacant positions. The three facets of the Michigan Economic Jumpstart Plan directs millions of dollars to help employers pay workers $15 an hour, help provide free or low-cost child care and to support small businesses and startups.

More: Gov. Whitmer looks to use COVID relief funds to help workers, small businesses

Just one day later, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) launched its Back to Work webpage that promotes several immediate and long-term workforce solutions that can help businesses “fill job openings, provide safe, healthy work environments for workers and address other business-related needs,” officials said Friday.

“As Michigan’s economic outlook continues to improve, and we get back to a new normal, our administration is turning our attention to uplifting Michiganders and supporting businesses in getting back to work,” said Gov. Whitmer. “We’re looking to the future. By providing tangible resources for businesses who need our immediate assistance after a challenging year, we ensure we build back even stronger.”

LEO’s Back to Work resource hub provides links to resources and programs that can assist employers as they work to fill positions, including information on where to share job postings and job fairs, how to offer more affordable child care and how to address specific talent needs. For longer-term solutions, LEO is sharing resources relating to labor market information, vocational rehabilitation, registered apprenticeships and more.

Officials said Friday that the state is primarily struggling with the following five workforce challenges:

  • Demand for workers is high
  • Labor supply is relatively weak
  • Lack of significant wage growth
  • Fear of COVID-19 -- employees will not go back into workplace if they do not feel safe
  • Lack of child care

Related: US adds 559K jobs as firms still struggle to fill positions

The state’s new reengagement plan comes shortly after Michigan started to again require unemployed residents to prove that they are actively seeking employment in order to continue receiving benefits. The move was made in an effort to encourage more people to apply for the many jobs currently available.

“I’m feeling optimistic about our future. There’s no question,” Whitmer said while announcing the MI Economic Jumpstart Plan. “I’m looking forward to delivering on all these fronts for the people of our state. We deserve no less and this transcends all partisan lines.”

LEO will hold a webinar from 10 a.m. on 10:45 a.m. on June 9 to highlight “services businesses can tap immediately” and to address employers’ questions related to employment and training needs, officials said. Click here to register for the webinar.

Visit LEO’s website here for the latest information.

Related: Some Michigan residents face concern, anxiety about return to in-person work

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.