An Upside to 10% Unemployment?

Well, that headline ought to cause a few people to pause. Of course one answer is "No, there is no upside to 10% unemployment levels" -- especially if you are one of the 10% out there seeking work. But there might just be something positive contractors can take from these unfortunately high unemployment figures: Quality workers. For years I and my fellow Cygnus editors and salespeople have made regular visits to contractors throughout the country, learning about individual businesses and markets, putting all that information together so we have a good sense of the industries we cover. We refer to these visits as "reader calls" and we do them so we can cover these industries effectively and so our advertisers know that we know what we're doing. In each of those visits we ask contractors what they consider to be their "critical issues," the one or two things that keep them up at night. And year after year almost every single contractor we've visited mentions "finding good employees" as one of the biggest problems. In fact, many contractors (over the years) have said they could easily grow their business or add a crew if they could find the quality employees to staff it. Well, if that's the case then now is the time to be looking and hiring. With unemployment at 10% nationwide -- and higher in some areas -- there are plenty of hard-working, quality people out there looking for a good job with decent pay. Most of them might not have considered working for a paving or pavement maintenance crew, but many people change careers over their working life. So if you're looking for quality people to build your company around this might be just the right time to get aggressive about hiring. (Plus, there's word that a federal government is going to institute a tax break job credit equal to 15% of wages on newly created jobs in 2010 and 10% on newly created jobs in 2011.)