Uptick in building construction has local business hiring; Keymark in Fonda looking to add at least 100


Keymark Corp. is looking to add at least 100 employees between its Cayadutta Street aluminum extrusion plant and its vinyl window manufacturing business, Kasson & Keller.

Keymark recently put out a news release announcing the company was looking to fill at least 100 manufacturing jobs paying “up to $16 an hour.”

Michaela Wren, supervisor of strategic staffing and organizational development for Keymark, said the hiring is meant to address an uptick in building construction. 

“The reason we’re trying to hire so many people is we’re trying to open a new shift with the Kasson & Keller company,” she said. “And, obviously, because of the pandemic and everything, we’ve been hurting for people.” 

In June, Keymark was the location of a COVID-19 cluster when 38 of the company’s 530 employees tested positive and the plant was temporarily idled.

Wren, speaking from the company’s Florida-based headquarters, said she can’t comment on how many total employees work at the business between the two locations now, but said the company has not laid off any employees since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. She said the 100-worker hiring is meant to mostly add additional total jobs to the company’s local workforce.

Keymark is hardly alone in looking to increase workers. Economists at Goldman Sachs Group see the unemployment rate falling to 4.1% by the end of the year from 6.2% in February. Hiring should be especially swift since two thirds of the remaining pandemic job losses are in industries hard hit by the virus.

Bars and restaurants across the country added almost 300,000 jobs in February, marking the first substantial increase in four months, according to Labor Department data. Forecasters say the vaccine rollout and the growth of personal savings will encourage Americans to spend, and employers will be keen to meet the demand.

Other employers are worried about their prospects for hiring in the near term as they compete with government programs for the unemployed. Several mentioned Congress’s renewal of the extra $300 weekly jobless benefit through early September as an impediment to hiring in the coming months.

Wren described some of the difficulties facing Keymark as it tries to add additional jobs.

“We just need manufacturing people who are able to come to work, especially with pandemic, and all of the stimulus money people are getting, unemployment and all of that — that’s something we’re dealing [with]” she said. “If somebody is receiving money, what do you think is going to happen? Do you think they’re going to want to work? I joke all the time that they should do an incentive for people who want to go back to work.”

Brian Rose, a senior economist at UBS Financial Services, said problems finding workers should dwindle as the vaccine rollout facilitates a return to in-person schooling and reduces fears of catching COVID-19 on the job.

“As the economy reopens, the problems keeping people out of the labor force should ease,” Rose wrote in a March 12 report. “Job growth should shift to sectors like leisure and hospitality where there are millions of available workers.” 

Wren said one tactic to increase employment may be to make the starting wage more negotiable.

“Those are things that are on the table right now,” she said.

Bloomberg News and Business Editor John Cropley contributed to this story.

Categories: Business, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News

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