Author: Lawrence Polaski

November 20, 2018 Lawrence Polaski 0 Comments

Small businesses in Illinois and across the country can’t find enough workers to fill open positions.

That’s the word from a recent national survey from the National Federation of Independent Business in which nearly 90-percent of respondents reported few or no qualified applicants for job openings.

The problem is worse in certain sectors, said Mark Grant, Illinois director for the NFIB.

“When you get some of our business owners who need tradespeople, jobs that are more intensive, labor-type things, those tend to be the hardest to fill,” he said. “I know even trucking companies are having a tough time finding people who can qualify to be drivers.”

Bob Goray is president of J.S. Goray, an exterior repair and restoration company based in suburban Chicago. The business has been around for 25 years and usually employs 10 to 15 people.

“No matter what we’ve tried – advertising, word of mouth – it’s very hard to find anyone who is available to work,” Goray said. “We’ve almost given up on trying to find skilled people. We bring people in who are unskilled and train them up, but even those are getting hard to find.”

The national NFIB survey reported 37-percent of small business owners raised overall compensation for workers in the last month, including for new hires. Grant said he’s seen that locally as well.

“They have been raising wages pretty consistently over the past several months to try to attract and keep the kind of qualified workers they need to have,” Grant said. “And they’re raising entry-level wages considerably, and of course that pushed up all wages when you do that. More experienced workers get raises as well.”

J.S. Goray is turning away potential business because the company simply can’t handle all the available work.

“Our business has grown quite a bit in the last two years and we’re really having a hard time keeping up with the demand due to the lack of employees,” Goray said. “We try to take care of existing customers and then we’re a little pickier about picking up new clients or even going out and bidding on work.”

Illinois’ unemployment rate stood at 3.8-percent in September. The state also recorded the lowest number of unemployment claims in the month of September in 45 years. Grant said he hasn’t seen a labor market like this in a long time.

“Maybe back around the early 1980s,” Grant said. “It’s cyclical. Our economy moves back and forth. This one has really sustained over a period of time that we haven’t seen in a few decades.”

Goray said the problem has been getting worse over the past decade, but has been especially tough as the economy continues to improve.

“At least in the construction trades, it’s very difficult right now,” Goray said.”I believe about 82-percent of construction companies are reporting a [labor] shortage. I’m not sure if no one wants to work outside anymore, but it’s pretty tough finding anyone.”

Reporting by Scot Bertram. Bertram is the general manager of Radio Free Hillsdale 101.7 FM, the student radio station at Hillsdale College and is also the co-host of “Political Beats” for National Review Online.

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October 5, 2018 Lawrence Polaski 0 Comments

NEW YORK (AP) — The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is in place and will soon be strung with 50,000 LED lights as one of New York City’s star holiday attractions — the gift of a same-sex married couple.

The 72-foot-tall, 12-ton Norway spruce arrived on a flatbed trailer Saturday morning and was hoisted by a crane into a spot overlooking the Rockefeller skating rink.

Crowds will gather Nov. 28 for a televised ceremony to see the tree burst alive with 5 miles (8 kilometers) of multicolored lights and a 900-pound Swarovski crystal star.

The 75-year-old spruce comes from Wallkill, 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of New York. It was donated by Lissette Gutierrez and her wife, Shirley Figueroa, from their home property. They nicknamed it “Shelby.”

Millions of people are expected to visit the tree that will stay up till Jan. 7.

“Now it’s not my tree, it’s the world’s tree; I’m so happy to be able to share her with everyone,” Figueroa said at Rockefeller Center on Saturday. “Millions of people will come to visit Shelby.”

Figueroa, 49, said she refers to the tree as “she” because “I felt she has a female spirit.”

Also at the ceremony was Erik Pauze, the center’s head gardener who cared for the tree over the summer, watering it and feeding it compost tea.

Figueroa said when she and Gutierrez bought their house, the previous owner said Rockefeller Center’s gardener had his eye on the tree.

Gutierrez, 47, said she initially was reluctant to give up the spruce, but Figueroa convinced her.

After the tree is dismantled, it will be donated to Habitat for Humanity to help build housing.

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