Let’s get to work, Northeast Michigan

It concerned us to see state data showing nearly 1,700 Northeast Michiganders were looking for work but said they were unable to find it, especially because there appears to be ample jobs available.

For our special Progress edition published earlier this month (read it at thealpenanews.com/progress-2022), several area employers across multiple industries told us they’ve had to get creative to find help. They’ve offered higher wages, better benefits, faster paths to certification, paid on-the-job training, and more to help fill positions.

Average weekly private sector wages stood at $813 in the first quarter of 2022, the most recent data available from the state. That’s up more than 9% from the average wage in the first quarter of 2021.

Still, area employers told us they struggle to find everything from attorneys to educators to manufacturing employees to restaurant help.

The reasons employers told us they’ve struggled to find help are varied. Some people can’t pass the necessary drug tests. Others expect higher wages and more flexible hours than local small businesses can or should offer. Others don’t want to work and would prefer to live off government benefits, employers said.

Others can’t return to work because they struggle to find child care in the area, much of which is classified as a “child care desert.” Employers also have struggled to recruit help from outside the area because of a lack of available housing.

The child care and housing situations are one thing, and our community leaders need to work to address them.

However, we call it shameful if there are people not filling those positions because of drugs or because they don’t think a position is worth their time.

Northeast Michigan needs you, folks. We need you to make things and serve things and cook things and sell things. Our community works best when everybody contributes.

And any paycheck is better than no paycheck or living off the government dole.

Let’s step up, Northeast Michigan, and let’s get to work.


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