Nationwide Worker Shortage Being Felt in Tippecanoe County

Employers are having problems finding workers, and low unemployment is the reason why. Nationally, unemployment is at 3.7 %, the lowest it's been in decades. Here in Tippecanoe county, the unemployment rate is even lower. The tight labor market is making it harder for employers to fill the job openings they have.

Posted: Aug 29, 2019 6:40 PM

TIPPECANOE CO. Ind. (WLFI)-Employers are having problems finding workers, and low unemployment is the reason why. Nationally, unemployment is at 3.7 %, the lowest it's been in decades. Here in Tippecanoe county, the unemployment rate is even lower. The tight labor market is making it harder for employers to fill the job openings they have.

"All of our Lafayette locations are hiring,” said Brian Foutz the director of operations for Frosty Management.

Brian Foutz has been hiring Wendy's employees for 25 years. He says the low unemployment level is making it difficult to hire the staff he needs.

"Any city you go to there are now hiring signs,” added Foutz. “I've talked to other franchises and other people in Wendy's system and it's a nationwide issue."

Some establishments are having such a hard time, they are having to cut back their hours of operations.

"We hear things of other operations that they just don't have the employees and they close their doors for that day so it's happening,” added Foutz “It hasn't happened to us."

However, the tight labor market isn't only affecting entry-level jobs.

"When you start to get a labor market where there just isn't a lot of people out there looking for work at all different levels there is going to be harder to find people,” said Timothy Bond an Associate Professor of economics at Purdue. It’s going to be harder to find people at entry levels and it's going to be harder to find people at the higher levels as well.”

Fast-food jobs have often relied on teenagers to fill some of their positions, but experts say trends show teenagers aren't participating in the workforce the way they use to.

"We do see that younger people are not working or participating at the same levels as they were 30 years ago that does seem to be a trend," said Bond.

With unemployment in Tippecanoe county even lower than the national average, Frosty Management has some new incentives to get people in the door.

"One thing that we have done this year that we have never done before is there is a program called "Instapay",” added Fotz. “With this program, they can actually get 50% of their earnings from the day before, the next day."

Experts say incentives like that are necessary to attract the talent employers need.

Another driving factor in the worker shortage, specifically for entry-level jobs is gig culture. Experts say while a person looking to pick up extra income at a part-time job might earn more at a place like Wendy's they prefer something like Uber or Lfyt since they can work whenever they please.

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