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End to federal unemployment sparks week of hiring events at SC businesses seeking to fill open slots

While unemployment has dropped statewide, many businesses are struggling to attract workers.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Audrey Coogler spent her day Monday at the Babcock Center doing what she normally does - assisting with new employee training and searching for talent.

The coronavirus, she said, took a major toll on the not-for-profit, which supports adults with disabilities with in-home services.

"People had to continue to go into these homes that were under quarantine and that was very scary," Coogler said. "We had quite a bit of turnover.”

Some of their facilities were also closed, but as they ramp up operations, roughly 60 employees are needed.

They're hopeful the loss of federal unemployment benefits Saturday will help them find new workers and are hosting a hiring blitz Tuesday, ahead of the move, to try to fill slots.

Credit: Kayland Hagwood
Audrey Coogler at the Babcock Center.

“It’s been an uphill battle to say the least," Coogler said. "When the governor decided to stop that federal support and cut that out of the unemployment option, we decided that this was a great time to do this hiring event because it would allow us to really try to get people into the job market.”

Governor Henry McMaster's decision to drop federal benefits comes months ahead of the September expiration date. He's hoping the move will help fill vacant job openings, as businesses continue to struggle to attract talent.

Multiple other businesses are hosting hiring events this week as well, including Tyson Foods, Walmart and Mark Anthony Brewing, Inc.

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While they gear up for the possibility of new staff, community service organizations like Wateree Community Actions, Inc., which provide rent and utility assistance, are gearing up too with the pause on evictions also set to end in the days following the loss of federal funds.

"Clients have reached out to us but so have the landlords," Executive Director Annette Tucker said. "They don’t want to put a mother with three children outside.”

Over the last three weeks, Tucker said they've seen an increase in clients seeking assistance. 

Their primary concerns have been changing employment, a need for higher wages, skill level or a waiting period for money after starting a new job.

RELATED: SC rent, utility program sees thousands of applicants; millions in funds still available

"So, when you decrease an income and trying to increase your income, sometimes there’s a period in between there that you need to get yourself back financially stable," Tucker said.

They're working to help get people back on their feet, as the state seeks to inch closer to normalcy.

Babcock Hiring Event

The Hiring Blitz at the Babcock Center is Tuesday, June 22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at their corporate office at 2725 Banny Jones Ave in West Columbia.

They're looking to hire direct support professionals and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs).

No special training is required for most positions, but they do ask applicants to have a high school diploma and a drivers license.

To learn more visit BabcockCenter.org.