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Sonoma County job market booming

FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, file photo, a restaurant posts a sign indicating they are hiring, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

BILL SWINDELL,

With an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent for April, the lowest level in Sonoma County in nine years, desperate job recruiters are turning to extreme measures.

How extreme? A group of Calistoga employers is holding a job fair in Santa Rosa on Wednesday and offering a shuttle service to attract new hires from Sonoma County.

“We’re seeing a huge need to fill this workforce,” said Jessica Taylor, Job Link manager for the Sonoma County Human Services Department.

Joanne Sanders, founder of the recruitment firm Bolt Staffing in Sonoma, said the job market is the tightest it has been since the dotcom boom, right after the turn of the millennium.

“It’s a great job market right now,” Sanders said. “Companies have to pay more to get the talent we need.”

Service workers in the hospitality sector are in constant demand in Sonoma County, Sanders added.

Some service jobs can offer up to $14 per hour at some restaurants and hotels, given the labor demand along with the push by labor groups for a national living wage at $15 per hour.

Other in-demand areas where companies are looking for applicants include accounting, health care and education, Sanders said.

A list of the recent positions filled by Bolt Staffing showed project manager at a fitness company in Sonoma County at $20 per hour; a staff accountant at a health care firm in Santa Rosa at $25 per hour; and a customer service representative at a medical firm in Marin County at $14 per hour.

“You are seeing this across the board,” she said.

The Calistoga event, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2227 Capricorn Way, will feature 13 employers, mostly in the hospitality business. They will be offering many positions from $15 to $20 per hour, some with benefits. In the arms race to attract employees, every offering helps.

“We’re hoping to get people who are excited about this extra perk,” Taylor said of the shuttle.

The shuttle will have three stops in Santa Rosa and the rides will be subsidized by employers, said Chris Canning, executive director of the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce. More than 20 percent of Calistoga workers reside in Santa Rosa. Local governments are ramping up their hiring activity, too, Sanders said, many of which have rebounded after suffering cutbacks as a result of the recession and decreased tax revenue. For example, Bolt just recently placed an applicant in an administrative assistant position with a municipality within Sonoma County at $18 per hour.

Sanders is on the board of the Sonoma County Library Commission and noted that even the library system has been hiring lately.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.