The search for employees continues to be a struggle within the county.

That was the message shared during the Huntingdon County Business and Industry monthly meeting Monday.

A survey sent by the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce found that the hospitality field is facing the biggest struggle when it comes to worker shortages.

When asked if Huntingdon County restaurants are struggling, Christa McGeary of Startup Alleghenies said it is a big issue.

“Many of our businesses have had to close early or not open at all because they don’t have the employees,” she said.

HCBI director Debra Clark said the shortage is not just affecting small businesses.

“I was in Sheetz the other day and you could not even get fried food,” she said. “They had not gotten their delivery.”

Aside from restaurants unable to hire staff, there has been a shortage of factory workers and delivery drivers.

“The increase in food costs is also insane,” said McGeary.

Nationwide, restaurants are down 8% in staff compared to their pre-pandemic numbers.

Clark said she is currently working on an application with PA CareerLink and Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center for an industry partnership grant. This would require businesses to collaborate to promote initiative, recruitment and career awareness.

“We are hoping that this will help with the shortages if we are able to get the grant,” she said.

Those looking for a job have some upcoming opportunities. There will be a CareerLink job fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7 at the Smithfield Fire Hall.

CareerLink director Barbara Covert said there are currently 41 different employers signed up, but more are urged to reserve a free spot.

She also said that those looking for a job should come to the CareerLink center.

“We have a lot of things set up to help,” she said. “But we are not seeing the amount of traffic we had hoped for.”

If those interested in coming do not have good computer knowledge, they are asked to bring someone who does as an aid to make the process simpler.

The county also has open positions, according to county commissioner Scott Walls.

“We have some custodial and recyclables coordinator positions open,” he said.

Despite much promotion, Walls said they have not been able to find anyone to fill these positions.

During the meeting, the committee agreed to elect current board officers to another term. Melissa Cisney-Foster and Jay Muir will be departing from their board seats. Tracey Cook of Mutual Benefit Group and Gwen Borger of Bonney Forge will join the board.

The next HCBI meeting will take place at 11:45 a.m. Monday, Oct. 18, via Zoom.

Emily can be reached at dnews@huntingdondailynews.com.

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