CORRIDOR BUSINESS JOURNAL Is your business hiring hourly workers?

Are you having a difficult time recruiting hourly workers? There is good news for you.  Even in the Iowa City to Cedar Rapids corridor, there are people everywhere! Of course, some are already employed.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Table A-15 – Alternative measures of labor utilization, the most common Measure quoted is U – 3 Official Unemployment Rate. Congress, during the 1970s, set U – 3 as the Official Unemployment Rate. These are workers who are unemployed and receiving unemployment payment assistance. Once their assistance runs out, they drop into Measure U – 6 “Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force”.  This is the link to the Bureau of Labor Statistics table that we are discussing – Table A-15. Alternative measures of labor underutilization – 2023 M06 Results (

Why is this important? Measure U – 3 shows that nationwide the Official unemployment rate is 3.6% (effective June 2023). However, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics measures all unemployed workers (including those who lost unemployment assistance) and those who are working in lower paying jobs, you will see that the true unemployment rate is 6.9% nationwide. Of course, there are fluctuations in different states. This is almost double the “Official Unemployment rate.”

Therefore, companies have more workers available immediately than is reported. That is good news for business! Remember, many retired workers are looking for jobs where they may contribute to the growth of an organization – but not at the level nor compensation of their previous career position.

How do businesses attract these workers? This is where we need to be creative. Why are these people not working? Based on my experience, there are several important barriers for these workers to reenter the workplace.

  1. Some workers need to stay home with their children because they would need reliable childcare. Currently, they cannot work for the going wages especially with childcare costs rising.  What are some potential solutions to this problem? The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation is an amazing organization! Is there a possibility that businesses may apply for a grant to cover the costs of childcare for their employees, possibly band together as a community?
  2. Some workers live in areas that require transportation to job sites. Can businesses buy monthly or annual bus passes for their workers? Larger companies have vanpools to bring workers to their business locations. Can smaller businesses create vanpools and spread the cost among themselves?
  3. Who is still paying the minimum wage to their employees and is wondering why they are experiencing difficulties hiring workers? According to the U.S. Inflation Calculator, $7.50 in 2009 is worth $10.67 today – and that is just breaking even. Gasoline costs vary and are not tied to the inflation rate. We have seen food costs increase recently. Rents are increasing. Hourly compensation with benefits needs to increase to attract employees.

What benefits may increase interest in working at your company?

  1. Have you considered offering donations to your Employees’ “529 Plan” for their children’s College Savings in Iowa? Mount Mercy University has a rich tradition of offering a college education to the first generation of a family to attend college.
  2. Listen to your employees. What benefits are they requesting? These benefits may attract employees and certainly retain employees.

Positive creativity attracts candidates.


Bill Humbert is the Google ranked #1 Talent Attraction Consultant. Mr. Humbert can be reached at Set an appointment to speak with Bill here – Contact – RecruiterGuy