Several community leaders are spending the day Thursday working to find better ways to connect residents with stable and fulfilling jobs.
The Butler County commissioners invited community leaders, business owners and folks in drug recovery to an Employment Planning Summit to discuss how to better foster employment relationships.
“The issue of folks who are in recovery; or folks who were in prison and are now coming back into the community; or folks with mental health challenges…employment has long been an issue,” Commissioner Leslie Osche said in an interview.
Osche says the county has lots of agencies in place to aid folks getting back into the work force, but sometimes the connection between the individuals looking for work, and the employers, isn’t so great.
“You have employers who need people, and we have folks who need employment, but that connect isn’t happening,” she said. “So what we’re hoping to accomplish is to figure out what is the piece that is missing and how do we overcome whatever those challenges are.”
The forum is taking place on Thursday at Butler County Community College.
Nationally, the U.S. Labor Department says the job market is strong and the unemployment rate remains low, at 4 percent.
Data shows that the situation is similar here in Butler County.
Commissioner Kevin Boozel commented on that when asked about Thursday’s employment summit.
“We’re at a point now where we have more jobs than people to fill them,” he said.
Commissioner Kim Geyer says the issue of employers not being able to find workers is something most western Pennsylvania counties, and places beyond, are struggling with.
“This issue is not unique to Butler County,” she said. “We have employers who have great family-sustaining jobs available, they’re just trying to find the people who have the skills, and talents, to work, and want to work.”
The U.S. Labor Department says the number of open positions outnumbered the ranks of the unemployed for only the second time in the last 20 years this past May.