She got an offer on the spot and took it.
Justin Johnson, too, already had a job when he showed up at an Express Employment Professionals office. He was working at a pet feed company, earning $14 an hour to shovel piles of mud or oats. But that week temperatures topped 90 degrees every day and were heading past 100.
“The supervisor pushed people too hard,” Mr. Johnson said. He had to bring his own water, and if it was a slow day, he got sent home early, without pay for the lost hours.
He accepted an offer to begin work the next day at a bottle packaging plant, earning $16.50.
Amy Barber Terschluse, the owner of three Express franchises in St. Louis, handles mostly manufacturing, distribution and administrative jobs. Wages, hours and a short commute are what matter most to job seekers, she said, and few would work for less than $14 an hour.
Ms. Terschluse said she had also had to educate employers, who have gotten used to low wages and the ability to dictate schedules and other conditions.
Some employers, she said, have also gotten into “a vicious cycle of replace, replace, replace.”
In industries like hospitality and warehousing, annual turnover rates can surpass 100 percent, which can pare overall growth. Mary C. Daly, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said good job matches between employers and workers produced the most productivity and engagement.
A dynamic labor market is one where the two sides negotiate over compensation, Ms. Daly said. If jobless benefits allow people to be a little more choosy because they are not destitute, she said, then “I, as an economist, predict that will be better for job matches and a better economy in the long run.”