A familiar refrain emerges from a recent survey of Nebraska businesses.
Nebraska firms need workers, especially skilled workers.
Nebraska Chamber of Commerce spokesman Jamie Karl says over 80% of business owners and managers surveyed by the Chamber say their community faces a worker shortage.
“That didn’t really shock us. This is the fifth consecutive year that workforce has been the number one concern of business leaders across the state,” Karl tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
In the Chamber survey, about a third of the businesses report they plan to add employees next year with nearly 60% saying their workforce will stay the same. Only four percent plan cuts.
Karl says businesses aren’t looking for just any worker.
“More than 90% of those who said they did face a workforce shortage, they needed skilled labor,” according to Karla. “And examples of skilled labor are welders, electricians, financial technicians, health care, so on and so forth.”
Karl says businesses also report high demands for workers with expertise in science, technology, engineering, and math.
The Chamber conducted the survey from late August through October as part of 30 Nebraska Chamber legislative forum presentations held in 28 communities. More than 1,500 Nebraskans attended the forums, including 55 state lawmakers or legislative candidates.
Housing emerged as a secondary concern. Almost 70% of those surveyed report their community has a housing shortage with better than 86% reporting the biggest need is for moderate-to-middle income housing.
Most business owners and managers say Nebraska is headed in the right direction. Those who don’t, complain about taxes. Complaints also surfaced about federal regulations, in particular new overtime rules and the Affordable Care Act. Businesses also worry about youth leaving the state and the rising cost of employee health insurance. Concerns also surfaced about the dip in the agricultural economy.
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this article.