Illinois’ historic low unemployment means businesses can’t find workers

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — On Friday, the State of Illinois released data that shows unemployment is at an all time low.

In October, the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent.

While that’s good news for workers, employers say they are having trouble finding people to fill available positions.

“When I talk to businesses, that’s their number one concern,” said Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). “They have a lot of job opening they’re not able to fill because there aren’t workers with those specific skills.”

Many employers are in need of people with “middle skills”, those that require more education and training than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree.

“Workers have more options, so they can be more picky, so it’s made it hard for employers to find good workers, when those workers have more options of where they want to be employed,” Stadelman said.

Paul Much, bartender at Taco Betty’s, at 212 E State Street, said he landed his job there through word of of mouth. He says Taco Betty’s is never really hiring, because the restaurant has a younger staff which works seasonally.

“We have a large group of people who fill in our summer hours, so by the time spring comes and they’re coming home from school, they take back their summer jobs,” Much said. “And then, when they go off to school is where we start slowing down. So, it’s sort of a natural ebb and flow for us.”

Stadelman says the low unemployment rate puts a burden on local business owners.

“It’s really hard for employers, especially when the economy is doing better, to find enough workers, and that prevents them from expanding their business and growing their business,” Stadelman said.

One solution Stadelman advocates is getting high schoolers interested in the trades, however, one poll of 500 young people 18-24 says over half of them are not or never were interested in trade school.

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