Worker shortage drives new plan to lure people to Fargo-Moorhead

Fargo-Moorhead officials say there's a critical worker shortage in the region. On Thursday, they unveiled plans to do something about it.

Local organizations are kicking off a five-year effort to attract workers. It will focus on training local workers to meet company needs, attracting new workers to the area, and improving community support for low-wage workers. It includes plans for an "embrace the cold" winter festival as well as a friends and family recruitment effort.

In an area with nearly 7,000 open jobs and an unemployment rate at an extremely low 2.6 percent, the need for workers is critical, said Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation President Jim Gartin.

"In the last 18 months we've seen manufacturers in this community move whole production lines outside of Fargo because they couldn't find the workforce to do that work," he said. "Do you think those lines are ever coming back to Fargo? The ability for our community to attract new industry into this marketplace is almost at a zero."

Companies also need to increase pay, said Convention and Visitors Bureau President Charley Johnson.

"You need to take a bigger step in order to actually compete," Johnson said. "People have greater expectations than what we're delivering here."

About 40 percent of the 30,000 new jobs expected in the next five years are in the low- to mid-range wage category. Local wages average 10 percent below the U.S. median wage.

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