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DENSO hopes walk-in jobs fair helps fill its more than 90 openings
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DENSO hopes walk-in jobs fair helps fill its more than 90 openings

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While unemployment continues to decline since its peak last April, it’s still a challenge for employers at times, even those offering more than $15 an hour. DENSO, which develops technology and components for vehicles knows that well as they search to fill more than 90 positions with their walk-in job fair today.

However, John Brown, a vice president at DENSO’s Statesville facility, believes they’re giving their employees and potential new ones more than just a job.

“The pandemic and economic fluctuations have touched all parts of society over the past year. They have made finding and keeping talent a challenge at times, but it’s why we’ve focused on areas in which we feel we can make the most impact: protecting our people and giving them opportunities to succeed. We’re hopeful that we’ll continue to see increases in applications as more people learn about our approach to safety, how we train people on the job, give them opportunities to advance, and help them build a career,” Brown said.

Its jobs fair runs from 9 a.m. to noon today at its facility on 470 Crawford Road. DENSO said it is looking for positions that include operators, skilled trade, and production engineer roles. Base pay for production machine operators starts at $17.38 per hour with a $.55 night premium. The company said there are greater potential earnings for technical and professional roles depending on experience.

With the potential to make more than what is well above the poverty level and above what some consider “a living wage,” DENSO might have an easier time than other businesses that aren’t offering as much. A living wage is typically defined as what is needed to afford minimum standards given the local cost of living.

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For employers, many have said between government stimulus checks — the last round of stimulus checks were approved in March — and that there are more jobs than job seekers, it makes filling open positions a difficult task. Those were the common responses from employers at a Statesville job fair in July.

The number of government benefits for the unemployed recently changed. As of Sunday, only regular state payments are available after two federal COVID-19 pandemic relief programs expired. North Carolinians will no longer see the $300 in weekly benefits from the federal government. While the nation’s lowest 13 weeks of state-provided unemployment insurance is still available for covering bills and other expenses, it only provides a maximum benefit of $350.

The numbers say Iredell County has mostly rebounded in terms of the unemployment rate, but still hasn’t fully recovered.

Currently, unemployment in Iredell County stands at 4.4% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a point higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment jumped to 14.7% in Iredell County in April 2020. That number was slightly higher than the peak of 14.6% in February 2010, just after the Great Recession, which was one of the worst economic declines in U.S. history.

In 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services set the federal poverty level at $26,500 for a family of four, the equivalent to about $13.59 per hour for a full-time worker. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculation in Iredell County, one adult with no children would need to earn $14.79 an hour to make a living wage. With one child, that amount jumps to $29.70 and to $37.49 with three children.

The minimum wage in North Carolina is $7.25.

Follow Ben Gibson on Facebook and Twitter at @BenGibsonSRL

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