Community, state agencies work together to bring employment resources to Ardmore
At the end of September, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported that August’s preliminary numbers put Latimer County at Oklahoma's highest county unemployment rate of 5.4 percent. Tillman County reported the second-highest rate for the month, followed by McIntosh and Pittsburg Counties. Cimarron County reported the lowest county unemployment rate of 1.2 percent in August. Unemployment rates in August were lower than a year earlier in 76 of Oklahoma's 77 counties and higher in one county.
Murray State College hosted a career and health fair at their Ardmore Campus Tuesday. Area industries and county resource partners gathered to distribute information about career opportunities as well as health and wellness programs available to students and the general public. The Carter County Health Department was also onsite, providing health coverage information as well as COVID and flu vaccinations.
According to current Ardmore Chamber of Commerce President Mita Bates, the current unemployment numbers, as of August’s preliminary counts, indicate 3.2%, which continues the downward trend since the start of the pandemic.
“These are close to pre-pandemic numbers,” Bates said. “Ardmore, as all of Southern Oklahoma, employers are struggling to find employees. This is due to a variety of factors such as fear of returning to work in person, child care issues and the desire for more flexibility.”
Dylan Tatum with Fastenal in Ardmore said their biggest struggle is finding applicants. “Our only requirements are to be 18 or older and have a drivers license,” Tatum said. The company does also require a background check and basic drug screening. Tatum said sales experience is a plus but not necessary.
Many companies, like Fastenal, offer a flexible schedule and on the job training. “We work from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., so anybody who can work during those times should apply.” Tatum said the applicant pool for their business has shrunk significantly since the beginning of the COVID public health emergency. “Supply chain issues have also affected us,” Tatum said. The business focuses on distributing products to commercial and industrial customers across the region.
Other attendees at the career and health fair discussed transportation and childcare issues, as well as difficulties finding employment that fit the needs of their families. One job seeker indicated they had applied for more than 20 jobs, most of which took more than two weeks to respond, if ever.
Struggles for potential employees, recruiters and for businesses in the region are not completely new problems, as many indicate that old issues have become more acute as the pandemic continues to affect the workforce and the general public.
For those interested in Fastenal, their application is online at Fastenal.com/careers or in person at 2428 Autumn Run in Ardmore.
For more information on MSC Career Services, visit www.mscok.edu/academics/student-success-center/career-services or contact the Ardmore Campus at 580-387-7200.
For additional information and assistance from OESC, please visit your nearest Oklahoma Works office. For those transitioning between careers, OESC provides training, educational opportunities, skill-building, resume assistance, networking, and job referrals.