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Joey Holz expanding his employment experiment, asking people to share their experiences

Posted at 1:36 AM, Oct 28, 2021

LEE COUNTY — A Fort Myers man, who went viral for his employment experiment, tells us he’s expanding his work.

Joey Holz says he now wants anybody who has recently been applying for jobs to tell him about their experience. He’s started an online database to collect the information to learn more about the job market right now.

Holz’s original experiment was to apply to two jobs every day for the entire month of September. After doing that, he got 16 emails, 4 phone calls, 1 interview, and no job. Now, he’s trying to get some solid numbers to find out how common his experience really is.

Holz said he’s now heard from people all over the country who have had trouble getting any response from companies they applied to. We even had a woman in LeHigh Acres reach out to us, showing us her Indeed page. She submitted 114 applications, but got no interviews.

Holz said he’s been talking with experts, but no one quite understands what’s going on.

“Some of the top economists are also baffled by this," said Holz.

We talked with an economist, Professor Tom Smythe at Florida Gulf Coast University, who heard Holz’s story, but he still doesn't fully understand the market forces at work.

“I’ll be honest with you I’m not 100 percent sure," said Smythe.

We also spoke with a hiring agency in Fort Myers, Express Employment Professionals.

“I’ve never seen it happen where you have a huge demand for people, but you can’t find people," said owner Tom Jobin. "I've seen housekeeping wages go from $10 an hour to almost $15 or $16 an hour, and it hasn't solved the problem."

Prof. Smythe said, at this point, he has two guesses about why the companies that need workers and the people seeking jobs aren’t matching up.

“I have to believe that there’s skill mismatch, again either over or under qualified, or they’re saying gee, if I do bring somebody on, I’m probably going to have to pay them more, and can I afford that?” said Smythe.

Companies would have to pay them more, because Florida’s minimum wage just went up to $10 dollars an hour, and will be going to $15 by 2026.

But Holz said, there’s only one way to know for sure what’s going on, and that’s to document it.

“There’s no way my story is going to tell it for everybody, but to move the Joey Holz experiment forward, I set up a Google form asking for anyone who wants to submit job search information in a way that we can quantify the data. That’s going to give us a more comprehensive picture of what’s really going on," said Holz.

Holz said he plans to collect a month’s worth of responses, then review the data at the end of November and see if it tells us anything about the state of the job market right now.