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Mike Fredrich shows off unmanned presses in his Manitowoc, Wisconsin, company. They're ready to start production at MCM Composites, a 55-person enterprise that makes custom thermoset molding.
The only problem? Fredrich has no one to operate them.
Tools - Degrees - People - Shift - Day
"These tools are heated to 300 degrees," he said. "But we're not running them. Had we had the people for the first shift, we could have been running this all day. But we don't, so they sit here heated, ready to go, with no action."
Fredrich said the business has gone to extremes to try to find the 15 additional employees it needs. But he's had little success.
Workers - Demand - Economy - Market - Means
"There are no workers, but there's a huge demand. The economy has picked up, but the market is so thin, that we just can't find them. We've gone to extraordinary means to find people that will actually work, including going to the local county jail and recruiting people to work from inside the jail," Fredrich said.
Despite record-high confidence on Main Street, a labor shortage issue is increasingly weighing on small businesses like Fredrich's around the country, proving that a strong economy can cut both ways for businesses.
Fact - National - Federation - Independent - Businesses
In fact, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses' monthly read on sentiment, labor quality is the number one issue for companies for five months in a row, outpacing taxes and government regulations and red tape. In May, one-third of small-business owners reported job openings they could not fill, and 12 percent reported using temporary workers.
"Finding the right person for the job is always a challenge, but obviously in a...
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