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Companies under pressure in face of historically low unemployment rates

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – The difficulties area employers must confront in hiring workers just seem to get more intense by the day. New numbers from December show six of 11 northeast Indiana counties registered unemployment rates below one percent. Not a single county from Economic Growth Region 3 had a rate above 1.3 percent.

It is forcing job recruiters to think outside the box to get and keep people on company payrolls. Sweetwater Sound, headquartered in Fort Wayne, says it has added an in-house mental health counselor and a new parental leave benefit, plus company officials say they cut health insurance premiums to be more attractive to job candidates and to current workers.

Jeff Ostermann, who is Sweetwater’s Chief People Officer, says the largest online retailer of musical instruments and pro audio equipment in the United States has also sweetened the pot for workers who want a future with the firm.

“One of the things we’ve put a big focus on these last couple years is internal promotion opportunities and creating the right structures and levels that people can see a pathway for them moving up. We saw three times as many internal promotions this last year as we did in 2020,” Ostermann said.

Rachel Blakeman, the director of Purdue Fort Wayne’s Community Research Institute, says employers making hiring decisions like they did in 2018 and 2019 may be feeling some pain because of it.

“So you need to be thinking about ways to fill open positions that you may not have been open to in the past, this includes hiring people with criminal records, this may be looking at changing work schedules,” Blakeman said.

Copyright 2022 Fort Wayne’s NBC. All rights reserved.

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