ISM took part in an article for GoErie.com titled “Erie manufacturing at odds with staff shortage.”
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Here’s an excerpt:
Help-wanted signs and advertisements seem to be everywhere in Erie County, and much of the country for that matter.
Locally, Taco Bell has offered a $1,000 signing bonus and other businesses have cut hours because of staffing shortages.
Some blame the shortage on fears about returning to the workplace or growing concerns about childcare. Others claim that a federal expansion of unemployment benefits provides an incentive to stay at home.
Whatever the cause, some economists say that a shortage of workers threatens economic recovery.
Statistics tell part of the story. The labor force participation rate has fallen 1.7 percentage points since the pandemic began while the number of people holding down jobs has declined by 7.6 million, according to a Bloomberg report.
A group of Erie manufacturers that spoke with the Erie Times-News said they can relate to the challenge facing other employers. It’s a fight they’ve been having for years. And it’s a fight they’ve been losing.
Employment in Erie County’s manufacturing sector has fallen by 1,600 jobs since August 2019, declining from 19,500 to 17,900, according to the state Department of Labor & Industry.
As much as any other factor, that decline reflects an inability of manufacturing employers to find the workers they need, company leaders said.
“For every one of us, it’s now been six years that we are trying to fill a workforce,” said Jim Rutkowski Jr., general manager of Industrial Sales and Manufacturing in Millcreek Township.
“We have tried many avenues. We are well cognizant of the fact that we have lost three generations of high school students.”