Hiring Hotspots Emerge in US, but Mobility an Issue

Elizabeth Field

With the country facing record high unemployment rates, many citizens are seeking out seasonal work to help alleviate more debt during the upcoming holiday seasons. However, in some areas of the country, most concentrated in the Midwest, private-sector employment has seen a dramatic increase in hiring, adding more than 100,000 jobs to the plagued market.

Fort Wayne, Indiana has added 8,000 jobs within the last year, nearly half of those it lost during the recession. Unemployment rates in the city have dropped 1.3 percent from its peak last year. Like Fort Wayne, many other Midwestern cities have topped the Fiscal Time’s “10 Best Places to Find a Job” list.

This list may be of particular interest to the nearly six million unemployed Americans who may soon lose their unemployment benefits after the 27-week deadline. Nearly one third of the nation’s 13.9 unemployed has been jobless for over one year and are no longer receiving unemployment checks.

However, many of the cities that are now seeing an influx of jobs were also once at the center of the housing bust, making relocation to these areas difficult. Property values are down, on average, more than 30 percent since peaking in 2006, making some reluctant to sell their properties to make a cross-country move. Buying and renting could also prove difficult because lenders or landlords are unlikely to make negotiations with someone if they have a poor credit record, nearly impossible to avoid during long-time unemployment.

Philene Harte-Weiner, a resident of Delray Beach, Florida, would be happy to relocate, however, cannot afford to do so as she and her husband owe $280,000 on their home which was once valued at $300,000 but now is worth approximately $130,000. “I’ll go anywhere in the country if I can cover my bills,” she says. “If somebody said they would take care of the house, I would be there today. I would be on airplane tonight.”

This increase of job openings is also creating a demand for engineers and workers with specialized training and certification that is already expanding to eastern cities such as Worcester and Albany.