Letter: The reality of the Asheville job market

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Thermo Fisher was trying for two months to get approximately 14 positions filled. If you notice the shifts that were available, they were for second and third shifts. The younger nonmarried individual will not work these shifts. They are prime time for them to mingle and party.

Now for Pratt & Whitney and Raytheon. Knowing about aircraft engines, it is a very mundane job. It is assembly line and very boring. Say if you were assigned to the wiring harness — to clamp it in place and do this for the rest of your life. It is not easy.

Plus, both companies have government contracts that require drug testing when hired and then random testing. They are also 24/7 work coverage. Now do you think that they will get close to 800 employees when Thermo Fisher can’t even hire 14?

This is going to be a big disaster waiting to happen.

The original article about Pratt & Whitney stated they were relocating here because the South is known for lower workers’ wages. So the hourly pay they posted will never be seen in anyone’s paycheck unless you are a manager or higher.

There is also a chance that P&W will have some employees relocate here to help set up the production, and they will get better wages than the local. It is the truth, and nobody has asked the proper questions when the proposals were brought to the county commissioners’ meeting. They always tell you what you want to hear to get their foot in the door.

— Leonard Nickerson


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8 thoughts on “Letter: The reality of the Asheville job market

  1. KW

    If they can’t find employees, they should force myopic elected officials to do the work.

    Maybe that’s how we should deal with many of our current & looming human-created fiascoes–Charlotte Street, The Bluffs, The Obelisk, Climate Change, Traffic, Polluted French Broad, Defunded Police, School closings, lack of infrastructure, poorly maintained roads, too many fat obnoxious tourists who contribute absolutely nothing to our quality of life…

    Asheville must be exposed for the hoax that it’s become.

  2. WNC

    “ The younger nonmarried individual will not work these shifts”

    If the government will get their finger off the scale then when
    The younger non married individuals get hungry they will be glad to work any shift.
    Not to mention if taxpayers money isn’t stuck in their mailbox they want be clubbing instead of working.
    You statement sheds great light, thanks.

  3. NFB

    “The younger nonmarried individual will not work these shifts. They are prime time for them to mingle and party.”

    That you make such sweeping assumptions as to why people won’t take graveyard shift jobs without anything to back it up just ends up negating the points you are trying to make. Points that otherwise might carry some weight.

  4. Mike R.

    I think the author makes some interesting points; some conclusions may or may not prove true.

  5. Irwin M. Fletcher

    Personally, I’m glad to see many (not all) businesses suffering from an inability to hire and retain workers. Many (not all) companies have been taking advantage of workers for years, via low wages, anemic salary increases (if any), and either no benefits or inadequate/expensive benefits.

    So, when I see that ThermoFisher and Pratt & Whitney are having hiring problems, I couldn’t care less. Let them suffer. (They’re not really suffering.) Either they will have to increase salaries more, relocate workers from other areas, or job seekers will become desperate enough to apply. Or, while highly unlikely, they can close. Whatever the case, this is their problem.

    Another factor these companies conveniently don’t mention is they aren’t interested in workers who are 50 and over. I can understand the rationale, so I’m really not even upset about it. However, this is their decision. They could hire older workers with lots of direct or transferable hard skills, lots of soft skills gained from decades of life, and workers who are dedicated, conscientious, and who would be grateful to keep working. However, this group of workers continues to be ignored. Okay, that’s fine. But, companies should shut their mouths and stop whining about not being able to find workers.

    Finally, at least with regard to ThermoFisher, the hourly wage they once boasted about in an interview — a wage they said they increased in an attempt to lure more workers — was about the same that I earned over 25 years ago when graduating college and starting my first job with no experience and that wasn’t even related to my degree.

    By the time one deducts payroll taxes, the cost of benefits (medical, dental, etc.), and, hopefully, being able to build a short-term emergency fund (12-24 months of living expenses) and then contributing to a retirement plan, how much is remaining from that $17 or $18 per hour to pay the expensive rents around Asheville, food, fuel, insurance, etc.? I drive an old car that’s paid for, but some people pay $250 – $300 a month for a car payment. Good luck if a tire blows out and it’s not under a warranty and you have to replace it. What about an unexpected health issue that requires an ER visit?

    In the end, I’m not sure how to solve the problems that exist. People way smarter than me have been arguing over this for decades. However, I can only see two major ways of handling it — increasing income or lowering expenses. Or, some combination of the two. People should not have to struggle to have the basics in life. And, to me, “the basics” doesn’t mean a $1,000 smartphone or a $50,000 vehicle. But, that’s just me. I’m talking about shelter that is adequate and safe, healthy food (not something from a Drive-Thru window), and access to quality medical care in the event it’s needed. That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable ask.

    My apologies if this went off into the weeds. I get really irritated with employers constantly whining about not being able to find workers when much (not all) of their issues are self-created. They could pay more and/or they could hire older workers. I also realize that not every job offers a low wage. So, I’m not referring to occupations that pay, say, $60k or more. Mainly, I’m referring to the hourly positions that continue to go unfilled.

    • Robert

      You make a lot of good points. Another one worth mentioning: I often notice articles online about people complaining about their inability to make ends meet. Then when you click on their picture, you’ll see a well-dressed couple standing there clutching cafe drinks in styrofoam or plastic. Wasting money, destroying the environment. Things that are encouraged by myopic elected officials such as the ones we have here constantly trying to lure more and more tourists who contribute nothing to our community or our infrastructure. I could keep going on this subject for hours and hours, but then we’d all be in the weeds. In short, most of our world’s problems boil down to greed, stupidity, laziness and apathy.

      And while I’m meandering in many directions, why are we still having issues over the color of peoples’ skin when buildings are collapsing, forests are burning, rivers are polluted, democracy is under assault, seafood is drying up, and our very survival is at stake? Are we ready for unexpected droughts or a Heat Dome hovering over Asheville? Do local mayors have any sort of coordinated emergency plan? Think it couldn’t happen here in the land of fat tourists and beer? That’s probably what Portland and Seattle residents thought.

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