The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported unemployment in Oklahoma has reached 5 percent for the month of May.
The unemployment rate has been hovering around 5 percent statewide for the past year. However, the Pottawatomie County unemployment rate is almost a full percent below the state rate.
At 4.1 percent, the Pottawatomie County unemployment rate is more than 3 percent below the national rate of 7.6 percent.
“If you can’t find a job, you don’t want one,” Tim Burg, executive director of the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation, said.
Burg went on to list several companies that are having trouble finding enough labor including Exxon Mobil, Wolverine Tube, TDK, and many others.
“There might not be a job that’s exactly what you want, but that doesn’t mean there are no jobs,” he said.
Finding skilled laborers is an issue that isn’t expected to go away as the “gray tsunami,” – the term Burg used for the approaching retirement of the Baby Boomer generation – approaches.
Due to the large number of Baby Boomers in the workforce, when these workers begin to retire – as some already have, Burg noted – so many workers will leave the workforce, that it will be difficult to replace them all.
This leads to a supply and demand issue, Burg said, with a higher demand for work than the supply of laborers.
This is a boon to those fresh out of college or career-training programs, however another issue exists in the fact that there is a disconnect between the companies and those looking for work, Burg said.
It is important to use varying types of marketing – especially the Internet and social media – to capture the young talent, he said. Companies are working to do this, but the shift to a different form of marketing will take time, Burg added.