Some Local Businesses Hiring Amid Layoffs

Grocery stores, assisted-living facilities, chain restaurants among businesses in need of employees

By Maggie Dresser
Immanuel Lutheran Communities in Kalispell. Beacon File Photo

While many businesses locally and nationwide are experiencing layoffs and reduced hours due to the COVID-19-caused closures, others are seeing increased employee demand or no changes at all.

Despite a surge in unemployment, with 10,112 claims filed in Kalispell as of March 14, businesses in the health-care industry, grocery stores and some chain restaurants have reached out to Job Service Kalispell to find employees.

“The way people are hiring is shifting … some businesses aren’t hiring but others are definitely needing the help,” Job Service Kalispell Manager Laura Gardner said.

Hiring businesses include Walmart, Costco, Super 1, Prestige Assisted Living, Immanuel Lutheran Communities, Applebee’s, Taco Bell, Weyerhaeuser and LC Staffing.

Prestige Assisted Living in Kalispell is hiring temporary and full-time personal care attendants, culinary and maintenances employees. Prestige is hoping to add additional staff to ensure its residents will have care in case a staff member falls ill.

“We’re looking to expand our team to provide personalized care to our residents and their families,” said Blake Thiess, Director of Talent Acquisition at Prestige Care. “We want to help as many people find work as we can. This is an absolutely unprecedented and crazy time.”

Gardner says some businesses seem to be unaffected by the coronavirus and are continuing their hiring process. But she hasn’t noticed seasonal employers preparing for their usual busy tourist season this year, and Job Service Kalispell postponed its April 23 job fair to an undetermined date.

“We have not seen the seasonal uptick … I couldn’t say for sure, (but) we’re not seeing the seasonal jobs or seasonal employers calling us at this point,” Gardner said.

Over a three-day period last week, Job Service Kalispell had more than 800 phone calls from individuals searching for employment and needing assistance with unemployment insurance claims.

“We’re doing whatever we can to help adjust people to remote work, switching away from in-person communication and all the COVID-19 social distancing we’re trying to accomplish,” Gardner said.

All Montana Department of Labor and Industry offices are currently closed to protect staff and to prevent COVID-19 spread but are open for phone calls and online assistance.

Montanans experiencing layoffs or reduced hours due to COVID-19 are encouraged to visit https://montanaworks.gov/job-service-montana. In Northwest Montana, contact Job Service Kalispell at (406) 758-6200 or [email protected].

For Montana labor market information, visit http://lmi.mt.gov/home/job-tracking.