After last week’s immigration raid in and around O’Neill, Nebraska’s labor market is getting a lot of attention. Bryan Slone is the president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and says businesses they are in contact with all report the same problem.
Slone says, “It is clear for our employers that the number one issue is workforce. Wherever I go, and I mean wherever I go in the state, we’ve got businesses that can grow ten, twenty, thirty percent. They just can’t find enough employees to grow like they could. That growth is very important to our state.”
Slone says another problem is that Nebraska’s population growth is very small to our economic growth. It isn’t surprising that after a few decades with people leaving the state that we are experiencing a labor shortage.
When it comes to solutions, Slone says there are several options. One is to train those who are currently on assistance for jobs that are in demand. Schools can address employment with students while they are in junior high school to get them thinking about what options are available in the state. He also says the country needs to do a better job with its immigration system and we have to get more Nebraska natives that have moved out of state back home and join the work force.
Slone says, “The numbers we need, I would say right now we could easily assimilate 50,000 workers in the state.”