Low Unemployment Comes with its Own Problems

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By Melissa Davies, Wise Ways Consulting

Say what you want about our trade disputes with China and uncertainty of the new U.S., Mexico, Canada trade agreement (many pundits call this NAFTA 2.0), the U.S. economy is at record high employment rates.

Here in Prince William County, the unemployment rate is 2.8%.

Just to compare:

  • National average is 3.9%
  • Washington, D.C. is 5.6%;
  • Virginia (total state) 2.9
  • Maryland 3.8%
  • West Virginia 4.9%.

Okay, lots of numbers tossed around. What this means, essentially, anyone who wants a job can find a job. However, high employment doesn’t equate to high wages, benefits, professional jobs, or worker happiness. If you are underemployed, hoping for a raise, or on the flip side, looking to hire workers, you know the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The job market is hard to navigate.

Employee satisfaction in terms of pay and benefits, respect, quality of life, career advancement, and meaningful work, still rule the day. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in retail or in research – what you value in your job and its benefits (a paycheck) matter.

Our area offers tremendous opportunities. Before you go forth and look for a job, complain about a job, or hire your next shift of workers, it’s important to recognize every employee is a person, not a statistic and we succeed when we work together.

For the job seeker:

What do you need to be satisfied? Salary and benefits, reasonable commute, career growth, community?

For the employer:

What have you put into place to find and keep your workforce? Do you have well trained managers? Employee incentive programs? Feedback outlets? Training? Do you know what job seekers want?

When the job seekers and employers are aligned, they work and they work well. Don’t let the numbers fool you, hiring and keeping employees is harder in a tight labor market.

Finding a new job that fits your goals and skills is easier when there are more opportunities, but chasing the wrong goal – say salary over commute and family time – won’t make anyone happy.

Don’t skip the important steps because you feel stressed. Build your workforce if you need to hire employees. Find a good fit if you are looking for a job or changing jobs. These tenets never change no matter the national or local numbers.

Melissa Davies is an executive leadership coach and facilitator as well as the author of How Not to Act Like a BLEEP at Work.  She resides in Prince William County and runs Wise Ways Consulting, which specializes in leadership, management and team development, executive coaching, group facilitation and high-engagement training.  She can be reached at info@wisewaysconsulting.com or through wisewaysconsulting.com.



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