Region’s job market tightens


Although the state and national economies continue on a slow growth path, the prolonged economic recovery has driven unemployment to low levels and employers in southeastern Wisconsin struggling to fill open positions are increasingly turning to job fairs.

The U.S. gross domestic product only grew 1.2 percent during the second quarter and only 0.8 percent in the first quarter. But the job market looks stronger.

interview-busines-shutterstock_370947476(1)The U.S. economy added 255,000 jobs in July and 292,000 jobs in June. The U.S. unemployment rate is at 4.9 percent.

The Wisconsin economy added 10,900 private sector jobs in June and 49,900 private sector jobs from June 2015 to June 2016. The state’s unemployment rate was at 4.2 percent in June.

“As our state economy continues to grow, we need to keep our focus on ensuring Wisconsin employers have access to a robust talent pool to fill their labor market needs,” said Department of Workforce Development Secretary Ray Allen.

In an attempt to find workers to fill open positions, numerous job fairs have been held recently in the area.

Kohler-based Kohler Co. held a job fair this month at the Inn on Woodlake in hopes of filling nearly 150 openings throughout its business. Kohler has 41 openings in manufacturing, including for assembly, machine operators and warehouse work; and in skilled trades, including electricians, industrial electricians, electro mechanics and utility repair technicians. Kohler’s hospitality group has 108 openings for cooks, servers, dishwashers, retail, housekeeping and sales associates.

Kohler executives said in January the company had nearly 400 openings and expected to fill 500 positions during the year between job growth and turnover. A spokesperson said the company has had “great success” in attracting new employees over the last several months.

Milwaukee-based Klement Sausage Co. plans to grow its local workforce by 10 to 12 percent this year, adding as many as 50 hourly positions at its Lincoln Avenue facility in Milwaukee. The company will hold a recruitment event on Aug. 26 in conjunction with WRTP (Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership)/Big Step.

More than 100 companies from Washington and Ozaukee counties participated in a recent job fair at the Washington County Fair Park & Conference Center in West Bend. Participating companies came from a variety of industries, including customer service, health care, hospitality, information technology, logistics, manufacturing and sales. There were full- and part-time positions available, along with direct-hire and seasonal opportunities.

More than 100 businesses from Waukesha and Milwaukee counties, in search of more than 1,000 employees, participated in a recent job fair at Country Springs Hotel in Waukesha. Major developments along Bluemound Road in Brookfield have created a demand for workers there. The job fair was organized by the Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce, ResCare Workforce Services and the Hartland Chamber of Commerce.

“What we have been hearing from our members is that it’s a really tight job market and it’s getting harder and harder to find people,” said Carol White, president of the Brookfield Chamber. “There’s pretty much nowhere you can go where you don’t see ‘now hiring’ signs. That, coupled with what’s coming down the pipeline on Bluemound Road, (we thought) if we could coordinate a job fair this would be wonderful for businesses who are looking for a workforce and people who are seeking employment.”

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