MS Coast Employment Crisis Easing

The manpower crisis Katrina left our job market in is easing, according to the director of the Gulfport Win Job Center.

After the hurricane, just about every business on the coast was hurting to find workers. That created a pay bidding war among some businesses and benefited the employees.

"It's kind of hard," said Donna Pruitt.

Pruitt says she's having a tough time in her job search. She went to the WIN Job Center looking for a position as truck driver with pay close to what she's used to making.

"When you're used to making $15, $20 an hour, then $10 dollars an hour? You kind of frown on it."

After Katrina, overall coast salaries rose dramatically as employers were scrambling for workers.

Gulfport WIN Job Center Director Mark Landry said, "In restaurants and what not, a lot of employers were offering longevity bonuses for staying a certain amount of time them. They were giving cash bonuses for that."

Landry says the good news is that while many of the job incentives have gone by way side, the higher wages have not.

"All your medal trades, construction, welding, especially the shipbuilding - we're seeing employers raise those rates to get people out and they've left those rates there," said Landry. "We're also seeing it in professional type employment managerial positions and even in a lot of the administrative positions. They're not continuing to go up like they were after the storm. They have kind of peaked and remained at a higher level than they were before. "

Landry says as the labor shortage becomes less of a shortage, skilled workers like welders and pipe fitters have an edge.

"Employers are able to start to become a little more selective in their recruiting, and in the job seekers they're looking for and able to find people with more experience than in the past," said Landry.

Landry says there are still opportunities for unskilled people to find good paying jobs. He says many employers are willing to train those who want to stay with the company and work hard.