Jobs key to everyone’s recovery
Weak job creation is hindering the recovery of industries across the board in Northwest Indiana, according to the Times Board of Economists.
Tim Roper, owner of Smith Auto Group, said when serious job creation finally starts, buyers will return to auto showrooms.
“The huge fundamental for our industry is jobs,” Roper said.
The creation of just more than 1 million jobs in the U.S. in the past year has helped jump-start auto sales to a projected 12.9 million this year, but that is still far below the 17 million per year sold before the recession.
In recessions past it was the housing sector that generally led the rebound, said Bill McCabe, broker/owner of Century 21 Executive Real Estate in Schererville. After the 2001 recession, it was the high-tech sector that led the way.
“Right now we just don’t have that spark that is creating jobs,” McCabe said.
The National Association of Realtors expects existing home sales to rise about 8 percent this year to 5.2 million. But that is far less than the more than 7 million homes sold per year just before the housing bubble burst.
The U.S. unemployment rate has fallen sharply in the past two months to 9 percent in January from 9.8 percent in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But job growth remains weak, with just 157,000 jobs created in the past two months.
With the drop in unemployment has come some improvement in the outlook for grocery stores, with some consumers shifting their preference from discount stores to traditional supermarkets, according to Donald Weiss, president of WiseWay Foods.
“It’s a moderate recovery, because you have some more people working but not enough of them,” Weiss said.
However, all that unemployment has not necessarily made hiring any easier for employers.
In the fast food industry, qualified employees are still hard to find, said John Barney, president of Barney Enterprises, which operates a number of Wendy’s restaurants.
Several trends have conspired against fast food restaurants when it comes to hiring, including the growth of the retail sector, which seems to be the first preference for many job seekers, Barney said. At the same time, the wide variety of choices and just-in-time counter delivery have significantly increased the demands of the job.
“It’s a real challenge for our industry to figure out what to do,” Barney said. “It’s not any easier to to find good, quality employees today.”