Business Owners Get Creative with Unemployment Rate at Record Low

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The United States’ unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent, according to the May jobs report that was released on Friday.

Iowa’s unemployment rate is even lower than the national average.

“So the numbers we were seeing in April were around 2.8 percent, which is almost a historical low for Iowa. So that just means we are all having to be more creative. We are having to look at maybe individuals with barriers that we can serve whether it be veterans, those with criminal backgrounds, disabilities. We want to help all of those that are willing and able to work,” Iowa Workforce Development Business Marketing Specialist Rachel Falahpour said.

The Iowa Restaurant Associations said those in the restaurant business are experiencing a shortage of workers.

“Everybody is looking for workforce right now. We have to, as the restaurant industry, find interesting ways to be competitive. We have to have interesting ways to compensate our employees. We need to provide flexibility. We need to look at ways to give people benefits,” Iowa Restaurant Association President Jessica Dunker said.

Dunker said one of the ways they are being competitive is through wages.

“Iowa’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. It’s difficult to find anyone who will work for that, nor do you find many employers expecting people to work for that. We are seeing for folks who are having their very first job at 16 years old able to start at $10 even $12 an hour in a quick service restaurant,” Dunker said.

Dunker said regardless of what the unemployment rate is restaurants will always be looking for workers because the industry continues to grow.

“We have a net growth every year of a thousand new jobs. And we are expecting to do that every year for the next ten. So in the next ten years, we need another ten thousand restaurant employees. So ‘we’re hiring’ signs are going to be out almost regardless of what unemployment is,” Dunker said.

Iowa Workforce Development plans to release Iowa’s May jobs report sometime this month.