With the positive retail and industrial growth in our community, it is an encouraging time to live in Hamblen County. I just wish we had about 20,000 outsiders that knew what we knew and felt the same way.
With growth comes growing pains and a major pain is the labor force. This year over last, we do have about 1,000 more participants in the labor force locally, but wouldn’t it be encouraging if we had 2,000 which is very possible.
Do you still have acquaintances complaining about not being able to find a job? Have you had the heart to tell them how many jobs are available today in our community….1,369 this month alone.
I think it is pretty safe to say that there is a stark difference between a “person” and a “worker.” Our community has plenty of “people” but our goal is to attract more “workers.” We are fortunate to be in an 8 county region that provides a labor force for our market, but if we are not leaders in recruiting workers and business, we will be like other strug- gling communities. This shift of tide also provides a positive for our workforce—rising wage rates.
Now I understand not all will say this is a positive, as labor cost increases means that it raises the overall cost of doing business, but I am a firm believer that a hard working individual working in a manufacturing environment with some decision making capabilities deserves a living wage and our goal should always be to allow the lowest paid workers an opportunity to be higher paid if they have worked hard and learned their trade.
If these individuals aren’t treated well per- sonally or financially, they will be the leaders at the company next door.