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City Beat: Why Are So Many Jobs Open In Midst Of Low Unemployment Rate?


Editor Paul Osborne

     I don’t have to look very far to find businesses that are understaffed because they cannot attract people to work for them. A few businesses have even closed their doors because they could not find anyone to work and the lack service can be felt at several local businesses because they do not have a full staff. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told by business owners or managers that they cannot find anyone to fill the jobs they have open.

     Frankly, in all of the years that I’ve been editor of this newspaper I’ve never seen so many jobs go unfilled in our community. Yet, unemployment in our nation, through figures gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, show a low unemployment rate. How can that be possible?

     Well, the Bureau of Labor Statistics only counts citizens in the labor force when factoring the unemployment rate and those who have given up looking for a job are not counted in the announced rate. Little wonder that critics of this method of measuring unemployment contend that it paints a brighter picture than is actually the case. Critics argue that not counting workers who have given up looking for a job paints a brighter picture of unemployment than really exists.

     Workers can be dropped from the labor force after only 4 weeks of looking for a job even though they are still jobless. During the two years since the COVID-19 Pandemic started, a lot of people decided they were not going to look for work and were no longer classified as “unemployed”. It seems to me that critics of the formula for determining the unemployment rate are correct when they contend the unemployment figures are made to appear much better than is actually the case. We don’t have to look any further than our own community to see the strong argument for that position!

     • SINCE April 1st (better known as April Fools Day) is coming up on Friday, I’m going to print my annual disclaimer that points out the day had no connection to the fact that I was elected to my first term as Mayor of Decatur on April 1, 2003 — April Fools Day! Fortunately, the April Fools Day connection was never used by a local citizens in any disagreement on an issue we had. (Insert April Fools Day Smile Here.)

     • GREAT NEWS!! Farm Progress announced last week an extension of its contract with Brush College, LLC., confirming Farm Progress Show’s biennial location in Progress City USA at Richland Community College in Decatur. The contract enables Farm Progress to continue carrying out its mission to provide world-class ag experiences in both Illinois and Iowa for decades to come.

     Last Thursday, during my weekly appearance on WSOY’s Byers & Co., I was able to express my appreciation to so many in the community who joined together to win the contract for the Farm Progress Show. Although I was mayor at the time and actively worked to bring the show to Decatur every other year, the credit for the win belongs to the united effort of this community. Brian Byers mentioned the victory speech I gave when we found out we had won the competition for the show. I clearly remember saying to the crowd assembled in the parking lot  at Richland Community College that there was a time this community would have been happy to achieve second place or an honorable mention in such competition, but that day was over because Decatur is about winning, not almost winning.

     I still believe that about our community — even more so than I did then.

     • BROTHER? I also mentioned on Byers & Co. last week that, as I was personally greeting all the exhibitors tp welcome them to our community, I was a big hit with the ag people from Nebraska who thought I was the brother of Tom Osborne, the legendary Nebraska football coach!  (Just for the record — I am not related to Tom Osborne.)

     • GREAT memories. I have a lot of great memories of my years serving as mayor of this community — and the memories surrounding going after the Farm Progress Show contract, the celebration in winning it and participating in the show, especially that first one, combine to leave definite satisfying thoughts about that special time. Not only has that show produced an incredible amount of revenue and international publicity about Decatur and Central Illinois, but the ripple effect has been far beyond our wildest dreams with the Ag Academy and so much more.

     • BIG PARTY! One final thought about the Farm Progress Show, from so many, after we met and shared the announcement of winning the contract, we headed downtown to the Decatur Club to celebrate and I don’t think I’ve ever been in the midst of happier people in my life! It was like we had won the state basketball championship!!! Good times!!! Good memories!!! Great for Decatur and Central Illinois, and we were only getting started! There continues to be so much potential in this area and we need to claim it!

     • I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. every Thursday morning at 7:00.


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