Businesses in the Fox Cities suffering from employment shortage

APPLETON, Wis. Recent reports say Appleton’s 'Halloween Express,' a seasonal business, will not open this year because it doesn't have enough workers.

With a low unemployment rate of just three percent across the state, it's not just retail businesses that are struggling. Search results from the job center of Wisconsin show there are more than 1,300 positions available in just the city of Appleton.

"When you look at a three percent unemployment rate there's not a large population of job seekers to choose from, and so what are you offering to entice workers to your place of employment?” said Matt Valiquette, Program Operations Manager for the Bay Area Workforce Development Board.

Ron cox, owner and manager of Ace Hardware in Appleton say he finds his employees through referrals. He says his secret to a low turnover rate is being flexible with scheduling and incentives.

"In retail it's kind of how flexible you can be for the employees and work with it, and while we do offer overtime, that's typically for those who work 40 hours, and for some folks they're never going to get there, so we do have an incentive program when our sales are up then they get a share of that back," said Cox.

Valiquette says a great resource for employers to help fill their workforce needs is to connect with their workforce development board.

"We have a very high responsibility to ensure our employers workforce needs are being met and so if we're not made aware of those there's not a lot of efforts that we can put forth," said Valiquette.

Valiquette says employers have to be competitive with what they're offering.

"Whether it's wages or whether its benefits, and if you're not competitive in that marketplace, you're going to experience challenges finding skilled workers," Valiquette adds.

"We get together as a team and do dinner for Christmas which really turns out nice, we do a lot of training too, they have the ability to do a lot of training online if they find an area that they're interested in," said Cox.