Low unemployment numbers have mixed meaning for job seekers, candidates

The federal unemployment rate hit an 18-year low, in part due to employers adding 223,000 jobs in May. While the unemployment rate is at 3.8 percent across the country, it is even lower in our region.

In Minnesota, the rate is around 3.2 percent. But in Wisconsin, the unemployment rate hit an all-time low of 2.8 percent in April. At first glance, this may seem really beneficial for those in the job market, but it can also have a downside.

Between them, the two B.A. Burrito Co. locations employ about thirty to forty people.

“But we’re always looking for more,” said Paul Hosch, owner of B.A. Burrito Co.

Paul Hosch just had an open interview event but didn’t have many candidates to choose from.

“It’s tough finding good people and it’s tough keeping good people,” Hosch said.

He may have to double down on his recruiting efforts.

“Moving forward, we plan on having them at least once a month, if not bi-weekly,” Hosch said.

One issue he may run into is that when the unemployment rate is so low, people looking for a job have a lot of choices.

“One of the things that we do in career services is to put on career fairs, allowing employers and students to meet face to face,” said Barbara Kelsey, career services manager for Western Technical College.

She said it’s helpful because people don’t always realize all the jobs that are out there. There’s been a steady uptick in the number of postings on the college’s job board.

“We’ve had a lot more interest from employers in being part of career fairs,” Kelsey said.

Not only can people be picky about the job they’re taking, the low unemployment rate means companies may be more willing to negotiate pay.

“Even negotiating $1,000 more a year has a long-term impact because future raises are based off of that starting salary,” Kelsey said.

But for business owners such as Hosch, that’s not always feasible.

“Other places offer more competitive wages than ours, and that makes it tough,” he said.

Instead, if they’re willing to take the job, he can offer them the chance to get some skills they’ll need in the future.