NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

In Search Of Workers

November 10, 1997

The labor shortage that first appeared in the information technology sector 18 months ago has now spread to just about every industry, say personnel specialists.

Employers are reportedly resorting to a wide variety of gimmicks to get and keep workers -- skilled or not.

  • Some hotel chains are recruiting unskilled help from as far away as Eastern European countries.
  • Companies are defraying relocation costs by discounting rates on U-Haul rentals.
  • In Detroit, Sears, Roebuck & Co. is offering charities $100 for each person they recommend and Sears hires.
  • Boeing has reportedly been luring employees away from its best parts suppliers -- with the result that the suppliers are falling behind in filling the company's orders.

Some companies say they have had to turn down hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects due to lack of available workers.

Some of the ploys being used in recruiting and holding workers: increasing company contributions to employees' 401(k) plans, stuffing recruitment literature in bills to customers, paying low-skilled workers high-skill wages and moving company operations out of low-unemployment areas into areas with more available workers.

Some executives say they are faced with the dilemma of paying higher wages and sacrificing profits, or giving up on hiring and sacrificing growth.

Source: Gail DeGeorge, "Sign of the Times: Help Wanted," Business Week, November 10, 1997.


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