I recently received the October unemployment data for Iowa. Overall, Iowa had a three percent unemployment while the total U. S. had a 4.1 percent rate. Remember, a four percent unemployment rate is considered full employment.
This past October, Mitchell County had a recorded 1.5 percent unemployment rate. Only three counties had lower.
Everywhere we go in Iowa, we see Help Wanted signs. Obviously, it is difficult/impossible to find qualified workers when the unemployment rate in Mitchell County is at 1.5 percent. Our surrounding counties are in the two percent range, so few are likely to commute for the average job opening.
Here is the dilemma: Business needs workers; Iowa and Mitchell County have low unemployment, thus a very small pool of workers to draw from; and for many, commuting is not an option. Long term, we need to try to keep some of our youth here in Mitchell County, explain the benefits of living in the Motherland. Opportunities abound.
So, the other option is to attract workers from outside of the area, probably outside of Iowa. Recruiting also has its issues, namely where to find affordable housing if a worker wants to relocate.
The availability of affordable rental apartments is at a premium. The cost of building an apartment complex greatly exceeds a reasonable rent rate. And housing in the $80,000 to $130,000 is also difficult to find.
Now, Mitchell County has been blessed with Tax Increment Finance (TIF) dollars. Presently your Board of Supervisors (BOS) is working on a program to utilize some of these TIF funds to assist in affordable housing crisis.
One of our main objectives is to attract owners of housing valued in that $80 to $130 range to build a new house, thus placing their existing house on the market. Also, every new house increases the tax base of Mitchell County, additional folks paying into the system.
Any and all suggestions on employment and housing will be greatly appreciated.