Answering a hire calling: New jobs abound in county

If you need a job, chances are Evelyn Blake can help.

The assistant personnel superintendent for Shelby County Schools has the tough task of finding enough workers to offset the 1,000 new students who join the system each year.

&8220;We&8217;ve been growing considerably for the past several years,&8221; she said.

Blake said at any given time she is looking for as many as 150 future employees.

While most vacancies are for teachers, the county&8217;s largest employer also needs bus drivers, classroom aides, substitutes, lunchroom workers and custodians.

The need is so great Shelby County Schools held a system-wide career fair Saturday, March 24 at Oak Mountain High School. More than 312 applications were received and several interviews were conducted onsite.

&8220;The job fair went very well, everything ran smoothly,&8221; said Blake. &8220;We had people interested in all of our positions.&8221;

Blake estimates the system will have to add 300 teachers before August to meet demand and replace retirees.

PRIVATE SECTOR

JOBS UP TOO

Shelby County&8217;s employment growth isn&8217;t limited to just the school system.

The county, long known for having Alabama&8217;s lowest unemployment rate, is experiencing a boom in the number of private sector jobs being created.

More than 15,000 new jobs were added in Shelby County over the last five years, according to a U.S. Department of Labor census.

From the second quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2006, Shelby County gained a total of 15,464 jobs&8212;the most in Alabama.

&8220;It&8217;s definitely a job seeker&8217;s market here now,&8221; said Greg Minor, director of employment services for Alabaster Career Center, a state funded program that helps people find work.

&8220;We didn&8217;t have one major industry like Hyundai coming to Montgomery,&8221; said Minor. &8220;Most of our new jobs are in the service industry, like restaurants and stores.&8221;

Madison, Baldwin, Tuscaloosa and Lee counties round out the top 5 for new jobs created. Jefferson County took the biggest hit &045;&045; losing 11,593 jobs.

More job openings and low unemployment have an additional benefit for employees&8212;higher salaries. Wages in Shelby County increased 20.5 percent during the five years of the Labor Department study.

The jump in pay was greater than the growth for Alabama (18.8 percent) and the nation as a whole (15.8 percent).

&8220;If there are less people to hire to keep up with the supply side of things, then salaries go up,&8221; said Butch Burbage, county finance manager, in a statement last year. &8220;It&8217;s a good spiral to have. Everyone who wants a job, has a job.&8221;