In Areas With Low Unemployment, Employees Are Hard to Keep – WSJ

In Baca County, plumbers, electricians and other contractors are in such short supply that homeowners might have to wait a year or more for someone to come out, said County Commissioner Peter Dawson. Workers have the upper hand. “It’s easy enough to quit one job and go to work within a couple of days with somebody else,” Mr. Dawson said.

The labor market is getting tighter as the U.S. jobless rate fell to 4.3% in May, the lowest level in 16 years. Colorado had the lowest unemployment rate of all states at 2.3% in April, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, followed by Hawaii, North Dakota and New Hampshire.

“It’s a good problem to have on some level, but it is a business concern because in order to have economic growth, you need to have an available supply of labor,” said Mark Melnik, the director of economic and public policy research at UMass Donahue Institute in Massachusetts.

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4 thoughts on “In Areas With Low Unemployment, Employees Are Hard to Keep – WSJ

  1. One big problem we’ve been having in this country is that we haven’t been f*cking the working man quite enough.

    Hmmm.

    I just don’t see it.

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  2. Reading the linked article, it seems to be talking about places where only rich people can afford to live, with the non-startling consequence that non-rich people can’t afford to live there.

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    • Most of the article is three counties in Colorado: Baca, Summit, and Yuma. None are normal. Baca, population about 3500, is the classic rural Great Plains story: shedding population since the 30s, generally with people leaving faster than jobs. Yuma, population about 10K, is similar except there’s been a small oil/gas boom. Yuma’s problem today is that the boom looks to be over, their tax base has collapsed, and the long-term decline is resuming. Summit, about 30K, is almost 100% national forest with resorts carved out. Essentially every place that can be built has been built, and the interest is how to get more tourist space, not worker housing. Unemployed people don’t hang around, and if they’re going to keep looking, they move to one of the towns outside the national forest (hence county) boundaries.

      I thought the Wall Street Journal would do better than picking three very atypical counties and trying to make a story out of it. Digging into, say, Jefferson at 2.0%, Denver at 2.1%, and El Paso at 2.5%, all with more than a half-million people, would have been much more informative.

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