Southwest Michigan workforce showing gradual improvement

NOW: Southwest Michigan workforce showing gradual improvement

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Southwest Michigan’s labor market is slowly making a turnaround with 1,900 people across Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties rejoining the workforce in May, according to Kinexus Group.

“Finally, things are starting to slowly get better, we had 7,000 people out of the labor market, that’s down to 5,000,” said Al Pscholka, Vice President of Public Relations and Government Affairs at Kinexus Group.

Unemployment in all three counties in May was 40 percent higher than in May 2019, but a collective 5.7% unemployment rate is an improvement from last spring, going down nearly 12%. 

There’s still plenty out of the ordinary though, like the usual spike in seasonal employees Southwest Michigan would have right now. 

“We usually add about 1,300 seasonal jobs, so that is still a huge issue for especially restaurants, smaller businesses,” said Pscholka.

Kinexus said employment in the hospitality industry is still struggling with a 15% decrease from pre-pandemic, while manufacturing is down 8%.. 

“We’ve tried to look outside our industry and if someone isn’t familiar exactly with what we do, if they understand the tools and things we implement and they’re good problem solvers, we’ve had success,” said Jay Bauer, Mechanical Manufacturing Manager at Eagle Technologies.

Also, prioritizing company culture in this competitive market. 

“We want to refocus on the whole work-life balance, we don’t want to be understaffed in the way that our folks have to work extra hours,” said Bauer.

Eagle Technologies has locations in Bridgman and St. Joseph and you can apply for a job here.

Kinexus has opportunities in about all sectors for anyone who can visit their Benton Harbor office or call at 269-927-1064.

You can also use their new Jobs NOW Hotline that runs Monday through Friday from 8 – 5 p.m. by calling 866-604-5627.

Employers looking to be involved should contact Berrien County Business Account Manager Paul Brohman at BrohmanP@miworks.org or Cass and Van Buren County Business Account Manager Mark O’Reilly at OreillyM@miworks.org.

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