CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some Putnam County employers say they're having a hard time finding suitable employees.
At Nippon Thermostat, spokeswoman Shizue York said her company has found only one in 10 applicants is able to correctly answer a simple math question on the pre-employment exam.
Most companies in Putnam County are hiring, said Gary Walton, director of the Putnam Development Authority, but it's been a challenge.
Putnam has the third lowest percentage of unemployed residents in the state -- 5.4 percent, according to July information provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Walton hopes that number, down from 6.7 percent in July 2011, will continue to drop, and expects it to, but is concerned about the available workforce.
"The biggest problem is finding people to work. [Young people] today want to start out at the top," Walton said. "I've heard people say they didn't want to work at Toyota, because you go in as a temporary employee while they decide whether or not to keep you."
To try and weed out unsatisfactory job performance, many companies are hiring workers on a temporary basis, many times with less pay and benefits, to get an idea if they are reliable and can handle the workload.
Toyota and two of its nearby parts suppliers, Nippon Thermostat and Diamond Electric, among others, first hire on a preliminary basis to see if an employee will show up for work and can catch on to required duties.
Nippon Thermostat recently announced it would double the size of its plant in Fraziers Bottom and create 30 jobs. The company, which makes automotive thermostats, will hire someone on a temporary, three-month basis before determining whether or not to keep them on the job.
"Some people can't survive three months," York said.
Currently, only about half of the newly hired temporary workers are able to secure full-time employment, she said.
"I know we've had issues ourselves for the last year or so in finding good people ... or at least people who really want to work," Dave Bagnall, director of community affairs for Diamond Electric in Eleanor, said in an email.