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Help wanted: Local hires are needed

It seems like the current sign hanging from many small businesses is: “Help Wanted.” The need to fill employment slots left open after the close down last spring and the growth of business opportunities as the economy starts moving again.

There’s been rhetoric that enhanced unemployment benefits is keep workers off the payroll and on unemployment. Part of which may be slightly true, but can’t account for the large need to fill job openings.

This is twofold because to be on unemployment a person needs to be drawing from a business’s unemployment fund. A person can’t simply walk into the UIA office and ask to be put on unemployment. And secondly the Michigan unemployment rate is currently at 5.1% in March 2021 according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s generally agreed that a healthy economy has a 4-6% unemployment rate, with a rate of 4-5% considered close to full employment.

Marquette County is currently at 5.9% unemployment according to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.

So, that leads the question where are all the workers who left the job market prior to the pandemic? Well, the fact is there was a labor shortage before going into the pandemic and it has only compounded now that we’re on the recovery.

Many people who had been in the workforce may not even be in the labor pool anymore having to take care of family, started their own business or have taken an early retirement. There seems to have been a cultural shift in the workforce that may change the dynamics on how jobs are filled.

My feeling is that we were never truly experiencing an economic recession through the pandemic, but rather a social recession with economic fallout. The economic fallout may have shifted the work force into new avenues of employment which were not explored before.

So how does a small business attract labor? Here at the GINCC we ask that almost every day. It’s going to take creativity, flexibility and perhaps doing more with less. Seeking new avenues to post jobs, most likely word of mouth and personal contacts. Keeping the “Help Wanted” sign out even if you’re not sure you really need to fill a position yet. Building a bank of contacts that fit your needs and can go back to when openings come up.

The GINCC has started a job posting section in our weekly e-letter that keeps growing. It’s open to all GINCC members and we try to pass the word along of opportunities in our day-to-day interactions. And that could be a key benefit to joining the chamber, having an ally that has boots on the ground working to network businesses with the community.

To learn more about the GINCC, visit our website at www.gincc.org, give us a call or stop in. Office hours are 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday. We are at times out of office on Chamber business. Please call ahead to confirm a visit, 906-486-1111.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bob Hendrickson is the executive director of the GINCC. He currently resides in Negaunee with his wife, Laura, and daughter, Sierra. He enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and hunting along with family time.

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