McPherson and its surrounding counties have seen a steady decline in unemployment rates during 2012, which may be having an effect on available qualified workers.
According to a quarterly report by Doug Wisby with Multi-Community Diversified Services, the unemployment rate for McPherson County has lowered from 4.2 percent in January 2012 to 3.7 percent in December 2012; a .5 percent drop.
Surrounding Harvey, Marion, Reno, Rice and Saline counties also saw unemployment rates drop. All six reporting counties ended the 2012 with a combined unemployment average of 4.8 percent.
Wisby attributed the drop to the success of Go McPherson, a non-profit organization that established collaboration between the McPherson County Chamber, McPherson Industrial Development Co., USD 418, Hutchinson Community College, McPherson College and several large employers in 2006. The company was formed to address workforce development issues, as well as help market McPherson County.
Wisby also attributed the success to the recent appointment of Kasi Morales as director of community recruiting with McPherson Industrial Development Co. in August 2012. Morales has since worked to market and recruit potential employees in McPherson.
Jennifer Burch, director for the McPherson Chamber of Commerce, said the lower rate is having an effect on the available workforce. Burch said organizations like Go McPherson is continuing to look for and train potential applicants to fill vacancies in the county.
“It’s an obstacle we’re trying to rectify,” Burch said.
Rick Witte, county administrator, said the lower unemployment rate has not affected the county’s ability to hire for county offices.
“There’s still a reasonable number of qualified applicants,” Witte said.
Witte said the county has seen little turnover in the last year, and any it has seen is due to people moving out of the county.
In a meeting with county departmental heads on Tuesday, Witte said unemployment “is not a big issue.”