As Hiring Slows, Employers Say It’s Getting Harder to
Travis Bean sanding doors at Western Building Products outside Milwaukee. The
company’s president said, “Our problem today is just finding people who want to
work.”CreditLauren Justice for The New York Times
At Western Building Products’ banana-shaped factory on the lip of the Menomonee River
outside Milwaukee, the company’s president, Mark Willey, is wrangling with a stubborn
problem: not enough workers.
“If someone is here a year, they never leave,” Mr. Willey said. “Our problem today is just finding
people who want to work.”
It is a headache employers across the country are confronting, as Friday’s monthly jobs report
from the government illustrated. The unemployment rate in November held steady at 3.7
percent — the lowest in nearly half a century. And while the pace of hiring slowed to 155,000
from October’s above-average showing, the parade of payroll gains marched on uninterrupted
for the 98th month.
After a week in which the markets gyrated and presidential tweets caused trade tensions to flare,
the labor market’s steadiness offered a dose of calm.
The average monthly job gain clocked in at 170,000 for the last three months and more than
200,000 for the year.
Average hourly earnings rose 0.2 percent in November, keeping the year-over-year average at
3.1 percent for the second month in a row, a level not seen since the recession. “If you have solid
wage growth while productivity is improving, that is the best of both worlds,” Mr. Donabedian
The labor shortage has been a boon to workers who were hit hardest during the recession:
Minimum-wage earners, African-Americans, Latinos and Americans with a high school degree
or less have all seen their jobless rates decline in recent months.
Many of them were able to find jobs in health care, manufacturing, and transportation and
warehousing, which were among the strongest job-creating sectors.Employers added 27,000
manufacturing jobs in November, on top of nearly 300,000 positions in the previous 12 months.
Those who are doing the hiring, though, have repeatedly complained that the field of available
workers has been picked through, and that people with sufficient skills are particularly scarce.
Entry-level wages are $12.50 an hour, while the typical worker earns nearly $17 an hour plus
benefits. Because the business is 100 percent employee owned, workers build up equity in the
company after a year, which Mr. Willey said amounted to a 25 percent raise. He and his
colleagues have batted around the idea of raising starting wages to $16 an hour, but “we have to
have the productivity for it to make sense,” he said.
As hiring slows, employers say it"s getting harder to. Travis bean sanding doors at western building products outside milwaukee. The company"s president said, our problem today is just finding people who want to work. creditlauren justice for the new york times. At western building products" banana-shaped factory on the lip of the menomonee river outside milwaukee, the company"s president, mark willey, is wrangling with a stubborn problem: not enough workers. If someone is here a year, they never leave, mr. willey said. Our problem today is just finding people who want to work. It is a headache employers across the country are confronting, as friday"s monthly jobs report from the government illustrated. The unemployment rate in november held steady at 3. 7 percent the lowest in nearly half a century. And while the pace of hiring slowed to 155,000 from october"s above-average showing, the parade of payroll gains marched on uninterrupted for the 98th month.