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Workforce Development & Unemployment Trends for Cumberland County

The Coronavirus pandemic has shifted workforce trends since many workers were furloughed, unemployed, and/or working remotely from home.  As Cumberland County enters the green phase, businesses not only need workers, but workers with the appropriate skills.

Unemployment: The current unemployment rate for Cumberland County climbed to 12.4% from 3.8% pre-COVID.  The state average is 15.1%, which speaks to the County’s benefit of having a diverse industry sector.  In addition, this unemployment rate gives a false reading of the County’s economic health.  As we move into the green phase, more workers will be returning that were furloughed.  Once employment begins to level out in a few months, we suspect that we will see a more accurate reading of our unemployment and workforce status.  At that time, the County will access the jobs that have disappeared and review new emerging jobs and high demand occupations so that relevant training programs can be put into place to get those individuals impacted retrained and retooled and into new viable careers.

Market Shifts: Before the pandemic, the market started to shift where many businesses had begun to have more flexibility in the workplace such as remote work.  In addition, there has been an increase in automation, because of businesses not being able to find workers and to continue to be competitive in the e-commerce market.  Since the pandemic, these shifts have been expedited for both automation and robotics and hybrid models for remote work.

Workforce Gaps: Healthcare continues to the County’s #1 private employer and our largest skills gap.  We continue to see a growing need for nurses to offset the wave of retirements and for technology-centered careers in the healthcare field.  Many of these healthcare occupations need certificate programs such as certified nursing assistant, emergency medical technician, or licensed practical nurse.  New evolving careers that are emerging are the telemedicine and biomedical fields.  In addition, as we see an increase in automation, maintenance mechanics make the list of top job openings in the County and pay a sustainable wage.

CAEDC will continue to monitor the shifting trends and workforce gaps as the County continues to reopen and starts to balance.  In a few months, we should have a better outlook of the County’s workforce trends and needs so we can begin to work with our businesses and educational institutions to provide training in these areas.

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