The U.S. unemployment rate is so low that some cities and states have turned into “worker deserts” — places where companies can’t find people to hire.
The strong labor market is causing worker shortages in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, and Florida, where companies say they can’t keep up with business demand unless they find more workers.
Across the country, there are more than 1 million open jobs, more than there are people to fill them.
In Iowa, for instance, the unemployment rate was 2.5% in July, just 1 percentage point above the lowest level on record.
- According to government data, there are 70,000 fewer unemployed Iowans now than there were at the onset of the current economic expansion.
Faced with worker scarcities, companies are stretching as much as they can.
- Vermeer, an industrial equipment manufacturer, has asked employees to work Saturdays — on a voluntary basis — to keep up with customer demand.
- The company has struggled to find workers for its assembly line.
In New Hampshire, unemployment is close to a 30-year low.
- There are 20,000 jobs waiting to be filled, with no one to fill them.
- The state’s population growth is at a near standstill compared with earlier decades, making it “unlikely” that the pipeline of people entering the workforce will be large enough to replace those leaving, economists said in a 2018 report.
In Florida, where the unemployment rate remains “persistently low,” companies are “bringing back retirees on a contract basis, increasing the use of interns and apprenticeships and enhancing productivity through better workforce training.
- The stage also relies heavily on immigration to refuel its working-age population.
Manufacturing and construction are being hit particularly hard.
- Despite a slowdown in activity, manufacturing saw a record number of job openings in June.
Small businesses are suffering too: In a poll, the number that said finding qualified workers was their single most important problem hit a 46-year high last month, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, which tracks Main Street sentiment.