Community update from the Kenosha Vocational Ministry: A season of opportunity


The opportunity for employment has never been more open. One cannot drive through town without seeing help wanted signs at legacy employers and small businesses. People whose backgrounds used to cause employers to pass on them are finding that they are getting more frequent interviews and job offers. The job market has not been this wide open since the 1980s when unemployment hit 3%, defined by the department of labor as “full employment.” Current Wisconsin data has unemployment at 2.9%.

Employers have long known about some challenging worldwide patterns. Our world has been trending towards zero population growth in the Western world and beyond. Lower birth rates have also contributed to aging populations in Italy, Germany, Japan, and China resulting in diminishing numbers of workforce aged population. A shrinking workforce is now impacting the US workforce in ways that are exacerbated by COVID and the Great Resignation.

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Small businesses struggled to compete for new employees and larger companies have resorted to unsustainable overtime, delayed delivery times on products, and increased losses due to inefficiencies as a result of the constant training demands of an inexperienced workforce. However, the news is not all bad.

We are clearly in a season of opportunity! People who have been on the economic sidelines for decades due to low skill and challenging backgrounds have opportunities not seen in 40 years. Companies are more willing to hire lower skill sets, with the hope that they can train them into meeting the needs of the company and the customer.

Wages that have been uncharacteristically flat for decades have risen steadily through the pandemic. Although these increases have slowed a bit in the last 12 months it does not appear that wages are done adjusting to demand.

This is mostly good news for the employee side of the supply chain. More jobs, higher pay, and more competition for higher skilled workers puts the supply side of the supply and demand principle on the other side of the equation, favoring workers and the issues of pay, benefits and job mobility.

The number of job openings rose 199,000 in July of 2022 while most analysts had expected them to drop. According to the US Department of Labor Statistics, there were 11.2 million job openings in July of this year.

For the motivated and organized job seeker the chances of success are very much in their favor. Companies are reaching out into the community in ways unheard of in the recent past.

So, staying motivated to pursue meaningful change may net a job seeker much better results. Organizing a good search, increasing skill at interviewing, and understanding what a unique employer is looking for will significantly enhance your chances of landing a desired job. Opportunities to find a desirable position have increased as has compensation and benefits.

Today is truly a season of opportunity.

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James Schatzman is executive director of the Kenosha Vocational Ministry.

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