As the unemployment rate in the United States hovers around historic lows, some employers are having trouble filling positions in certain areas coined “workers deserts”. According to a news release from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings at the end of July totaled 7.2 million. Throughout July, the number of separations increased to 5.8 million, and the number of new hires was 6 million.
One state hit particularly hard by the shrinking labor pool is Iowa. According to BLS data, the economic expansion over the last decade has reduced the number of unemployed Iowans by 70,000. And while the overall population is growing, the working-age population growth rate is declining according to the US Census Bureau.
Iowa based Wells Enterprises was featured in an article published by Axios bringing these labor issues to light. After CEO Mike Wells opened an office for sales and marketing in Minneapolis and was unable to fill the positions created, he moved the office to Chicago.
Vermeer, another Iowa based company has asked employees to work Saturdays at their industrial equipment assembly line in order to keep up with customer demand. Board Chair member for Vermeer Mary Andringa mentioned “We disappoint customers if we can’t get a product to them. We’ve got some things now that if people order, they can’t get it for 6 months. We don’t like that.”
Other manufacturing employers throughout the United States are experiencing similar issues. The CEO of Snap-On Nicholas Pinchuk told CNBC “500,000 [manufacturing] jobs are still open in the United States, and we can’t fill them. Our factories have never had more hours.”