OUR VIEW: Jobless rate is low, but that’s not necessarily great newsUnemployment is low in Mitchell. On the surface, that sounds like great news and we suppose it is.
Unemployment is low in Mitchell. On the surface, that sounds like great news and we suppose it is.
But deeper down, it’s a problem that may hinder this region’s short-term progress. What company will come here without the promise of a workforce to fill its jobs?
Bryan Hisel recently told The Daily Republic that Mitchell is “having some very good years and we need people to come enjoy them with us.”
He said Mitchell boosters need to “shout it from the hilltops” that we have jobs.
He’s right. In a meeting with the editorial board of The Daily Republic last month, Trail King President Bruce Yackley said that if he could use upwards of 200 new workers between the company’s two plants in Mitchell and West Fargo, N.D.
Trail King, the nationally recognized trailer manufacturer, is a barometer of sorts for workforce health in Mitchell. When Trail King — the largest for-profit employer in Mitchell — is doing well, the rest of the city also seems to be doing well in terms of workforce.
The economic downturn in 2009 was especially hard on Trail King and its employees. The company went from 950 workers overall at plants in Mitchell, West Fargo and Brookville, Pa., to about 350. The Brookville plant has since been closed, but Trail King’s workforce has increased steadily in recent months, to about 650, including about 400 in Mitchell.
Yackley sees growth in the near future. Again, we consider that great news for Mitchell. Likewise, Hisel’s recent statement that 500 skilled workers are needed in the region could be construed as good news.
But where will those needed workers come from? At present, unemployment in Mitchell in September was 3.4 percent, which is lower than the state rate of 4.1 percent and well below the national rate of 8.8 percent.
Meanwhile, North Dakota’s oil boom is having an effect on the upper Midwest. North Dakota saw 19,100 jobs added from September 2010 to September 2011.
A workforce summit held Tuesday at Mitchell Technical Institute addressed some of these concerns, and we appreciate such events.
A low unemployment rate is a great thing, especially considering where we were just a couple of years ago. But future progress could be stymied because of this, and that should be of great concern to everyone in and around Mitchell.