Thursday, September 20, 2007

Labor Crunch Near Crisis Stage

Increasingly in my travels around the country I’m encountering more and more signs of an increasing labor shortage which will become more acute with the looming retirement of baby boomers. The major headline in last week’s Journal newspaper from Crosby, ND (population 1,089) major headline was, “Labor crunch near crisis stage.”

Crosby is the county seat for Divide County (population 2,086) in the very northwestern part of the state. The county has lost 50% of its population since 1970, putting it as one of the 100 least populated counties in the entire country (out of 3,141 counties). At 1.7 people per square mile, Divide County is very sparsely populated, but I also found them to be some of the friendliest that I’ve found in my travels.

The Journal has over a half page of help wanted ads, some offering sign-on bonuses of $1,000 to $2,000. The local restaurant has had to close early on Saturday evenings due to lack of help. The local jobs developer David Olson spent one day the week before helping to change diapers at the local daycare because they were short of workers.

The McDonalds restaurant just across the state border in Sidney, MT was featured last month in an AP article for outsourcing their drive-up window orders to a company in Utah. Offers of $10/hour couldn’t entice enough workers to keep the drive-up window local.

I hope that you are working on improving the skills of your local workforce. It is going to become increasingly important.

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