From the Chattanooga Times Free Press: Chattanooga’s biggest grocery chain and the region’s largest credit union are each conducting hiring fairs Thursday to help recruit more workers for their growing businesses amid the persistently tight labor market.
Food City — which is planning to add new supermarkets this year in Kimball, Tennessee, along with expansions of a half dozen other grocery outlets — is seeking to hire 1,200 workers to help staff its stores and distribution warehouses in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia and Kentucky. Hiring fairs are planned all day Thursday at each of the Food City stores and distribution facilities, and candidates can also apply for a range of full- or part-time jobs online at FoodCity.com.
“Our Food City family currently includes more than 18,500 dedicated associates, and we are excited to kick off our typical summer staffing events,” Food City President Steve Smith said in an emailed statement Monday.
Also Thursday, Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union plans a hiring fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the BX – Brainerd Baptist Church’s multi-use meeting facility, 4011 Austin St., where the credit union will try to fill a wide range of jobs ranging from entry-level positions to branch managers.
The credit union, which recently swelled its total staff to more than 500 employees, operates 23 branches and plans to add new locations in Chatsworth and Dalton, Georgia, later this year. While many banks have been pruning their branches, Tennessee Valley is planning more locations after gaining regulatory approval last summer to expand its field of membership from 13 to 17 counties in the Chattanooga region.
The credit union is now able to serve anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Chattooga, Gordon, Murray and Whitfield counties in Georgia.
“The job fair is to help fill some of our normal turnover but also to help staff our continued growth,” spokesman Jake Cash said Monday.
As the summertime season approaches and schools and colleges prepare to graduate many students into the workforce, Food City, Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union and other local employers are eager to hire more workers even amid some growing concerns about a slowdown in the economy later this year.
“Our outlook remains strong for 2023 despite some apparent progress from the Fed’s interest rate hikes in slowing inflation,” University of Tennessee Economist Don Bruce said in a statement Monday. “While we will continue to monitor the financial sector, things seem to be calming down a bit, and the forecast remains relatively positive, especially for Tennessee.”
Tennessee’s jobless rate fell from 3.5% in February to 3.4% last month as employers added 96,900 jobs across the Volunteer State in the past year to push employment in the state to an all-time high. The number of unemployed people looking for work in March, 116,474, was less than a third of the 355,707 job openings listed Monday at Tennessee Career Centers.
The March unemployment rate in Tennessee was two tenths of a percentage point above the all-time low of 3.2% reached last spring, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor.
To entice workers in the relatively tight labor market, the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union said it has boosted its pay for entry-level positions to $16 per hour, more than double the state minimum wage in Tennessee and Georgia. The credit union said it offers all full-time individual employees medical, dental, basic term life and short- and long-term disability insurance with affordable vision coverage. The credit union also offers a 401(k) plan with employer match, tuition assistance and a student loan repayment program.
Smith said Food City “offers a generous benefits package” with competitive salaries, comprehensive training, health care coverage with medical and dental plans, 401(k) with a 3% company match, vacation accrual, vision coverage and company-paid life and disability plans, and employee stock ownership plan.
“Food City also offers advancement opportunities to associates who wish to progress within a growing company,” Smith said.