Jannet Walsh

Chicken and egg dilemma: Waiting for economic uptick

In Minnesota, Money, Workforce on March 10, 2011 at 8:23 pm

By Jannet Walsh
Murdock, Minnesota

Historic Murdock House, Murdock, Minn. - Photo by Jannet Walsh

What does the economy need first: An uptick in the economy or employers hiring full-time workers instead of part-time workers?

There were 8.3 million in people in February working part time in the United States. Their hours at work might have been cut back or they were unable to find a full-time job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The part time pool of workers is crowded, 8.3 million, and I am part of this pool. The market only brought me a part-time job to this point after moving back to Minnesota in August 2010. I am very grateful for my job as there are very few in my career field in the area. I can practice my skills and jump into the Minnesota job market, all in one breath. That’s more than many might be able to say in a bad economy.

Workforce ready
What’s good about a part time job in a bad economy is that when employers are ready to hire, they have qualified workers standing ready to work full time, good for both employers and job candidates.

Minnesota’s current unemployment rate is 6.7 percent and is currently below the nation’s unemployment rate of 8.9 percent. The numbers sound and look good, but for individuals looking for work, they are just numbers.

Kandiyohi County Unemployment
7.3 percent
Labor Force of 23,740
Employment 22, 013
Unemployment 1,727
View source

Swift County Unemployment
9.2 percent unemployment
Labor Force of 5,436
Employment 4,935
Unemployment 501
View Source

Unemployment by counties in Minnesota
Search for your county

Midday Radio Show – Minnesota Public Radio
On March 3, 2011, I had a chance to talk to Louis D. Johnston, Professor of Economics from the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University in Collegeville on the Midday radio show live on Minnesota Public Radio. (I was actually in Murdock when I called the radio show.) He is an author of major revisions of 4th edition of “Principles of Economics” by Ben Bernanke and Robert Frank.
(See related Midday show blog about Garrison Keillor.)

Economist Louis D. Johnson

Listen to the Midday radio show on Minnesota Public Radio. My comments are at about the 10-minute mark.

Johnson noted the job outlook in Minnesota is better than the national average. “Our unemployment has fallen faster than national average. People are finding jobs, but the unemployment is fallen, as people are leaving the labor force,” said Johnson.

Discouraged workers
The reference of people leaving the labor force is a group called discouraged workers. They are considered marginally attached to the labor force as they have stopped looking for work in the last four weeks. A reason for being discouraged could be a simple as they are tired of looking for work for weeks, months or longer, and not finding a job.

“In the 1981 and 1983, about ten weeks, now it is six months. A very long time to be looking for work, and easy to be discouraged,” noted Johnson.

Eggs and chickens
“Firms are very cautious about their hiring. They don’t want to get caught so they don’t have to fire full-time workers, so they are hiring people part time. What they are looking for? They are waiting for an uptick in demand for their products. They want to know for sure they hire them on full time.”

“What you got here is a chicken and egg dilemma. They will hire when economy starts to look good, but the economy will start to look when they hire.”

For public policy, such as taxes and government spending, it is unknown as businesses are unable to take cues for future labor expansion. Employers wait to hire and job seekers wait to be hired.

I personally have learned in a bad economy, opportunity is waiting if you are willing to open unknown doors. Education and retraining in areas where there is hiring is a great door to walk through. Visit an area workforce center.

Looking for a job or employee?
Visit my workforce page on Minnesota Native Daughter.

Job search and creation

About Jannet Walsh

Working in media and public relations during recession-high unemployment rates in Florida at Workforce Connection, a regional workforce board, Walsh worked on workforce education, training and unemployment topics in Citrus, Levy and Marion Counties in Florida. She also wrote on topics related to workforce issues for both employers and job candidates as a columnist and was a contributor to the 2010 Great Communicator Award for an Institution awarded to Workforce Connection from the Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Society. Read full biography of Jannet Walsh.

Workforce suggestions? Please contact Jannet Walsh at jwalsh@wctrib.com for ideas on blog topics or workforce related topics.
Looking for a job? Looking for a new employee? JobsHG

Native Minnesotan Jannet Walsh is a blogger, columnist, journalist, photojournalist, terrier owner, hula hooper and more! Contact her at jwalsh@wctrib.com Click here to view full biography. View her other blog at http://jannetwalsh.blogspot.com/.
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