There are jobs out there if you want one.
Unemployment is at record lows of about 4- to 5-percent at the state level and about 7 percent in counties across the Delta region. Coahoma County notched a 5-percent in December.
But that number does not account for an estimated 30-percent of those in the region that are not even looking for work.
We have been told a Coahoma County manufacturer hired 300 workers last year and at the end of the year they had retained 103.
The top reasons listed for that turnover were a lack of soft-skills in new hires. These are employees who lack a strong work ethic, leadership skills, communication skills, problem-solving, time management and teamwork. The inability to pass a drug test also keeps people from landing a job they really want – or maybe just applying for it in the first place.
Factories and farms in this area typically hire more help during the spring and if a worker jumps at one of these jobs, comes to work on time, every day, alert and ready to take instruction, they can soon find themselves earning well above the minimum wage. Those who seize the opportunity to acquire additional education and skills needed by their new employer can find themselves working a $20-an-hour job after a few years.
And while it is easy to curse government welfare programs as the heart of the problem, we prefer to look at solutions. Industrialist, businesses, economic development leaders and of course politicians offered this list.
MAKE THE WORKFORCE READY: This means public schools need to be teaching work ethics, demanding daily attendance and that there are consequences for tardies. They need to also teach listening skills, simple math and how to read a work order.
WHERE ARE THE JOBS?: Having companies list jobs at local job centers is a great idea, but if Momma sees a job offer, she might prod son, daughter or dad to check it out. Employers need to cast a wider net. Our churches, schools, job centers and the media play a role in this.
GIVE THE NEW EMPLOYEE A CHANCE: Most of the chronically unemployed don’t even realize the skills they lack. Educators and industry need to team up with on-site programs teaching new hires what is expected. Having a mentor for every new employee is a good place to start.
The Mississippi said Coahoma County had a labor force of 8,510 people in November with about 8,000 working.
There are jobs out there.
Coahoma County and the rest of the north Delta need to work on ways to fill them.