Wis. unemployment claims up, major grocers offer opportunities

Hy-Vee is hiring at all locations.
Hy-Vee is hiring at all locations.(NBC15)
Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 9:41 PM CDT
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Amid a surge of unemployment in Wisconsin, grocery stores are hiring.

Unemployment claims are up 1500 percent within a week in Wisconsin, according to the Department of Workforce Development.

"We had 21,000 new claims yesterday. Between 8 and 8:15 a.m., in a fifteen minute span, we had 19,000 calls to our call centers,” department secretary Caleb Frostman said.

Taylor Rudolph is unemployed, after shutting down her pilates studio, The Body Shop of Sauk Prairie. The small business is considered “non-essential,” under Governor Tony Evers’s Safer at Home order.

“It is stressful,” Rudolph said. “If you keep dwelling on it every day, it could be very overwhelming to think about because there’s no end in sight."

Without a paycheck coming in, Rudolph is weighing different options, including those at grocery stores.

All Hy-Vee stores are hiring. At the Fitchburg branch, store director Ross Grunwald said he has hired 30 employees in the last three days.

“There's a lot of it [the reason] that's related to the coronavirus. some of it is with demand of getting our shelves stocked, more e-commerce happening and also just helping people that are in tough positions right now, being laid off.”

Other retailers hiring right now include Walgreens and Metcalfe’s. Pick ‘N Save is also hiring up to 2,500 positions across the state.

Rudolph, however, says she hesitates to apply because of her kids at home. ”Possibly exposing myself to something and then bringing it to my kids is hard to wrap my head around right now,” she explained.

Some of the industries falling into the “essential business” category include: healthcare, grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, gas stations, law enforcement agencies. Child care facilities and auto shops are also on the list but have some limitations.

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