Bill Polacek runs a manufacturing company in Western Pennsylvania. Even though a glut in new construction projects has dried up work for tradesmen, Polacek said he struggled to find qualified welders a few years back when he had a large number of jobs to fill. Polacek interviewed 350 people to fill openings for 50 welders and machinists at his Johnstown, Pennsylvania-based manufacturing company. But he quickly found the number of qualified candidates dwindling to the point where the number of open jobs was higher than the applicants qualified to fill them. The reason? Too many of Polacek’s interviewees either had criminal histories, or couldn’t pass a drug test.
‘’We weren’t attracting the right people,’ Polacek says of the episode, which prompted him to invest in extensive outreach to local high schools to build up a pipeline of workers.’ America’s worsening opioid crisis has helped create a generation of men whose struggles with addiction are preventing them from finding, and holding, steady jobs. Indeed, the type of hard-to-hire Americans Polacek encountered pose a growing problem for many employers, as a deepening opioid crisis plagues American communities just as the jobless rate hovers near a 16-year low. Polacek’s situation is hardly unique; the Fed’s Beige Book, a collection of anecdotes about the business climate collected by the 12 regional Fed banks, has included many testimonials about the difficulty that some employers, particularly manufacturing firms, are having in finding qualified workers, like this one from a manufacturing firm in St. Louis.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 21, 2017.