The Work From Anywhere revolution has changed the labor market dynamic in smaller cities like Spokane

Staff and telegram reports

The widespread adoption of remote work across the country has made Spokane-area employers learn to compete with out-of-state companies that offer salaries in major cities.

The scale of change over the past two years is staggering. In January 2020, less than 3% of job vacancies in the US on LinkedIn were for remote work. Now, small and medium-sized cities like Wilmington, North Carolina, and Sarasota, Florida, have seen that share rise by more than half, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Spokane has also seen a significant increase in remote work jobs, according to the Spokane Workforce Council.

It has been a boon to the white-collar workers who live in these cities. They can now apply to shows nationwide and often command higher salaries.

But it strained companies that could count on local professionals to fill job openings in areas like technology, accounting or marketing without having to worry about giants like Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, or Airbnb Inc. Types of industries: Regional network operators from Arkansas to Indiana have reported that engineers are being poached by competitors amid the rush to electrify everything.

“There is more competition for workers in local markets and in ways that local employers have not had to deal with before,” Daniel Gao, chief economist at Glassdoor, a website that collects salary information provided by employees, told Bloomberg. “This puts upward pressure on wages for these local markets.”

Michael McBride, business and industry analyst at the Spokane Workforce Council, said the Spokane Workforce Council monitors monthly job ads to determine labor demand via Emsi Burning Glass, a tool that tracks thousands of job posting sites and companies’ internal web portals.

“Job ads have gone up in Spokane since the pandemic,” McBride said, adding that there has also been an increase in vacancies specifically for remote work.

Prior to the pandemic, 20 to 60 job openings per month were advertised in the Spokane area. In May, McBride said, there were 621 telecommuting jobs in Spokane County.

“In every month since December 2021, we have had more than 500 job postings per month dedicated to remote work positions,” McBride said.

He said some of those job openings are from companies based outside of Spokane.

The increase in remote work jobs is a double-edged sword in the sense that it gives local workers more opportunity to apply for jobs, but some of those jobs may be for out-of-state companies that pay higher wages than companies in Spokane, McBride said.

“It’s nice that workers are paid big, but it puts additional pressure on local businesses in terms of wages,” McBride said.

LinkedIn showed more than 700 job openings advertising remote work in a 25-mile radius of Spokane last week.

More than 500 people were from the New York-based nonprofit Catchafire, which makes skills-based connections between professional volunteers and other organizations, followed by 21 lists from St. .

LinkedIn has had more than 2,500 listings for non-remote jobs in the Spokane area in the past week.

Last year, the industrial sectors most in demand for remote workers in Spokane were in professional, scientific and technical services, health care, social assistance, finance and insurance, McBride said.

In general, the most in-demand industrial sectors in Spokane are health care and social assistance, administrative and support services, retail, and professional, scientific and technical services and manufacturing.

Companies in the Spokane area are struggling to find employees amid a nationwide labor shortage. During the pandemic, the baby boom generation retired earlier than expected during what became known as the Great Resignation. McBride said this created a large number of job opportunities, some in managerial roles, while other workers were sidelined by a lack of childcare.

“In fact, every employer we talk to says it’s been the hardest thing we’ve ever had to hire employees,” McBride said. “It doesn’t matter what industry they work in.”

Companies advertise large referral and hiring bonuses in an effort to attract workers. Some also raise wages to remain competitive.

“We had a job fair not too long ago and every employer that signed up was eager to hire as many people as possible and they had very specific roles to fill,” McBride said.

In Madison, Wisconsin, where networking platform LinkedIn found about 42% of applications for remote jobs, Planet Propaganda felt the effects of that competition.

Before the pandemic, the advertising company was receiving up to 50 applications for new positions and could usually fill them within six weeks. It takes months even with the help of employers, and higher wages and benefits, said Emily Steele, the company’s managing director.

“When you take the standard of living into account, the salary we’re offering is comparable to New York,” Steele told Bloomberg News. “But it’s different if someone lives here and can pay for goods and costs for services for Madison – but then gets a salary from New York.”

For perspective, average hourly wages in Madison are about 16% lower than the New York City area, and home values ​​are about half.

To stay competitive, Planet Propaganda offers a cohesive company culture and more reasonable hours than large companies based on the East and West Coasts, Steele said.

Falling dominoes

There is a domino effect of revolutionizing work from anywhere.

Those who are able to get a salary from a big city spend the extra money in stores, restaurants and gyms, a windfall for the local economy. But it also drives up housing prices, and leaves many local workers struggling to keep up.

“There is a whole cascade of cascading effects that are happening from this,” said Ross Devol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward, a nonprofit think tank focused on economic performance in the central United States.

During the pandemic, Spokane has seen an influx of buyers from outside the area, some of whom are remote workers. Their arrival helped drive up the demand for housing and the rapid increase in home prices.

The average Spokane closing price for homes and apartments on less than one acre topped $425,000 for the second straight month in April, according to data from the Spokane Association of Realtors.

Since some employees at companies in large metro areas are able to work remotely, this makes mid-sized cities like Spokane attractive due to its low cost of living and proximity to outdoor activities.

said Tom Simpson, CEO of Ignite Northwest, president of the Spokane Angel Alliance and managing member of Kick-Start angel investment funds.

“They can now attract skilled labor that they might not have found in Spokane,” Simpson said. “Companies can also benefit from a broader workforce, including people from Seattle and the Bay Area who no longer want to live in those cities.”

Additionally, remote workers or those who move from larger metro areas to Lilac City participate in startup events and spend their dollars on local businesses, which in turn contribute to Spokane’s economy and community, Simpson said.

Simpson, like McBride, has noted that companies find it difficult to get employees during a national labor shortage. He said some risk-backed firms are curtailing hiring due to uncertainty about the economy.

Remote control operation

Poonam Kahlon, 36, switched to a completely away role in February. A mother of two young children moved near Wilmington, North Carolina in June 2019 to take a position as Head of Human Resources at a local company. She now works for a company based in New Jersey.

Pushing wasn’t her main driver – she wanted a better work-life balance and more time with her kids and husband. Employees like her pay local companies to offer hybrid options and higher wages.

“They will lose out on good talent if they are not flexible with the workforce,” she said.

Lisa Leith, founder of a Wilmington-based human resources consulting firm that primarily serves businesses in southeastern North Carolina, said remote work has also helped attract talent from across the country, tempted by the lifestyle and beaches.

“We have to look at compensation basically every month or every two months to make sure we’re on the right track with the market because it’s hard to find people,” she said. “So when you get your whole squad, you want to make sure you keep them.”

poaching engineers

Roughly 1,000 miles away in Little Rock, Arkansas, the nonprofit network operator Southwest Power Pool is also having a hard time retaining workers attracted by offers of remote work from remote employers.

Barbara Sugg, CEO of Southwest Power Bowl, which serves nearly 19 million people in more than a dozen states, said company-wide sales nearly doubled to about 8% to 9%.

She said that at least half of those leaving are engineers, but that IT employees are also being lured with salaries 30% to 50% more than their salaries in the network. Most of the employees who left for other jobs remained local.

All seven state and regional network operators in the continental United States said they faced similar challenges. At the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which serves 42 million people in states including Indiana, Iowa and Michigan, highly trained engineers and other employees are poached by competing networks, utilities and renewable energy developers.

As a result, network operators have begun to allow some employees to work from home, raising wages and encouraging people with different levels of experience to apply for jobs they might not have considered before. Southwest Power Pool has even hired three remote employees who live in other parts of the state and country — something network operators were unheard of before the pandemic.

Nationally, local businesses are getting creative. Paul MacDonald, chief executive of staffing agency Robert Half, said many smaller companies tend to hire candidates who may not have all the required technical skills and then train them.

Benjamin Jones, CEO of Mobile reCell, an IT company based in Fishers, Indiana, adopted a similar strategy: “We’ve focused on the philosophy of giving people opportunities from a young age.”

Sugg, CEO of Southwest Power Pool, emphasized the need to adapt to the new world.

“The truth is, people in Arkansas can work anywhere now,” she said. “The world around us has just changed, and we need to change with it.”

Review spokesperson Amy Edlin contributed to this article.