Regional industries in demand during recession
Story by Fatima Rahmatullah
Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Unemployment rates in the Tennessee Valley have been in double-digits for some time now.
But, a new study of jobs in the 30 county region finds housekeeping and maid services among the growing occupations.
The $300,000 study for the Tri-State Regional Workforce Alliance says truck driving and housekeeping jobs are on the rise in Hamilton County.
"We've doubled in size since about last year and really it's been a great thing," says business owner Ashley Doherty.
Ashley Doherty owns Molly Maids in Chattanooga and says her business is thriving. Up from eight workers last year, her staff has grown to 14 and she plans to hire more.
"The housekeeping market hasn't really been affected as much by the downturn as other markets were and that's for a number of reasons," says Doherty.
Regardless of double digit unemployment, Doherty says there's still a need for housekeeping in the Valley. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of housekeeping jobs in the region to grow by one-third. That could mean more than 5,000 jobs within the next year.
"Even though there are a lot of people unemployed, there's still 85 percent to 90 percent that are employed and those dual income families are still over scheduled and have way too much to do and they really value our services," says Doherty.
While clients may cut back how often they pay a service to clean their home or business, they haven't stopped all together. Doherty says the demand is still there and some residents have no choice but to get some help.
"There's still elderly people out there whose income didn't change at all. They were already on a tight budget and they already knew that they needed us," says Doherty.
And the people wanting to work for services like Molly Maid have changed since the recession. Doherty says she's gotten many over-qualified people applying for her job openings.
"We've actually had better luck hiring this year than any other years past cause there's more qualified people out there and a lot of people getting into other fields or something like that," says Doherty.
I also spoke to U.S. Xpress, a local trucking company.
A spokesman told me, there is always a need for truck drivers.
He says some smaller trucking companies shut down last year because of the recession and larger trucking companies, like U.S. Xpress are getting those clients and more folks must meet that demand.