With an unemployment rate the lowest in the region, industry is facing a tight hiring market.

With an unemployment rate the lowest in the region, industry is facing a tight hiring market.

May unemployment numbers released last week reported McPherson County unemployment at 4.3 percent — up from 3.7 percent in April.

Unemployment in the county has remained less than 4.5 percent for six months, and is well below the state rate of 5.7 percent and the national rate of 7.6 percent.

Brad Eilts, executive director of McPherson Industrial Development Co., said the low unemployment rate is one of the biggest challenges facing industry in McPherson. Finding qualified candidates is a significant concern as local industries seek to expand.

Low unemployment rates tend to drive up wages and results in companies drawing from nearby communities to fill positions.

McPherson largest barrier to bringing new workers into the city and county as permanent residents is housing, Eilts said.

McPherson needs more housing on all levels, he said, from single-family homes to rentals. Although city officials are working to promote more housing development in the city, Eilts said housing relief is not a problem that will be solved overnight.

Eilts said McPherson still remains a favorable location for industry. There are regions in Kansas that have higher unemployment and more workers available, but McPherson has a highly skilled workforce, he said.

Retail and other businesses in McPherson have seen stable workforces in recent months.

Jerry Rogers, owner of The Well, said he has been able to fill his open staff positions with college students. Some students have returned to McPherson for the summer, and an unusual number of students have chosen to stay in McPherson rather than go home for the summer.

Rogers said he has good retention, which means he saves on training costs.

Greg McCullough, of Farmers Alliance and past president of the McPherson Chamber of Commerce, said his company is also graced with good retention rates. Although the company does not have a lot of turnover, it is finding quality candidates when it needs to hire.

Contact Cristina Janney at cjanney@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @macsentinel.com.