Mitchell unemployment dips to 3.6 percentCity's jobless rate now lowest since before the 2008 financial crisis.
By: Marcus Traxler, The Daily Republic
The city of Mitchell posted its lowest April unemployment rate since before the national economic recession.
The rate was 3.6 percent, according to recently released data from the state Department of Labor. In April, 8,540 Mitchell residents were employed out of 8,860 people in the labor pool, leaving 320 unemployed.
The unemployment rate was Mitchell’s lowest for April since 2008, when the rate was 2.3 percent. In April 2009, the rate was at 6.4 percent and 560 members of the workforce were unemployed. Rates in 2010 and 2011 lowered to 4.7 and 4.2 percent, respectively. The comparable national figure this April was 7.7 percent.
The numbers are not seasonally adjusted, meaning impacts from seasonal industries such as construction and tourism are not removed.
Mitchell Area Development Corp. Executive Director Bryan Hisel said the numbers show Mitchell’s economy continuing to improve.
“We’re an anomaly when you look at the country as a whole, but when you look specifically at Mitchell, you see a lot of job creation and a lot of job growth,” he said. “The indicators that we are getting are showing a strong economy in the region.”
A shortage of skilled workers continues, with many companies trying to recruit new employees for production jobs.
At Trail King Industries, President Bruce Yakley said his company is seeking welders and it’s the company’s “hands down” top priority.
“We’re struggling to hire employees, and especially skilled ones.”
Yakley said he would like to add 75 to 100 more jobs in the next 12 months, mainly in production.
“We’re doing many things to try and add more welders, including recruiting nationally,” he said.
Trail King has also cooperated with Mitchell Technical Institute on its new welding program, with a hope to recruit new workers from there. But because the program is only starting up this fall, it will be a few years before Trail King, among other manufacturers, start seeing results.
“The governor’s program that he developed has really helped us, where they hired a recruiter to find skilled people, and that is working successfully for us,” Yakley said. “It’s somewhat of a slow process, because we have to do our due diligence when we’re interviewing these people and giving them the welding tests.”
Hisel agreed, saying the need to bring skilled laborers to Mitchell remains. He agreed that a housing problem also looms large and is a sign of growth.
“Those are problems we wanted. They are indicators of growth,” Hisel said.
Hisel cited local industries that have recently expanded, pointing to Performance Pet Products and AKG Manufacturing. He said the skilled workforce battle will be one area cities like Mitchell will have to fight for the forseeable future.
Yakley said the long-term goal for Trail King is to use skilled workers from the area through the programs his company is investing in.
“We want to get them trained at the tech school and then get them into our plant and teach them our techniques. For now, we’re hiring from all over the country and bringing skilled, experienced workers,” he said. “Both are successful, but they take time.”
Hisel credits the commodity and farming markets for keeping the local economy strong.
“It’s all conspired to create a very unique growth pattern for us, while the rest of the nation is still trying to recover,” he said.