In many places, job shortages are a part of reality for residents. Individuals are pressured to attain four year degrees, accept unpaid internships, and spend full time hours handing out resumes to find a position. There can be hundreds or even thousands of applicants all vying for a single job. All in all, finding gainful employment can be difficult for those in regions with job shortages and high unemployment.
Yet, at this moment, Elkhart has quite the opposite problem. In an unusual twist, employers in the area find themselves the ones competing against one another to acquire and retain talent. There is an estimated shortage of 20,000 workers to fill the office, manufacturing, and customer service positions available. Some employers have even resorted to scooping up new hires from fast food restaurants. They come in and watch the employees, offering a higher paying job to the hardest working employee at the restaurant. This kind of poaching has created a crisis for many fast food establishments in the area. Many have been forced to reduce their hours of operation, close for periods of time, or close off the dining room and restrict their business to the drive-through.
Many companies are also suffering from higher churn. As the fierce competition for a limited pool of employees heightens, options for employees increases. Workers are leaving their jobs for better positions, higher salary, or improved benefits from other companies. It is a problem that needs to be addressed quickly by both employers as well as local government. While residents may enjoy increased employment rates and better wages, this shortage can lead to businesses being forced out of the area.
More importantly, despite the shortage and increase in wages, the median household income in the area has still failed to recover from the recession. Elkhart County's average hourly wage continues to fall behind the national average by 17%. The supply and demand need to be balanced out with a much more substantial increase in pay for employees. This is one way in which companies may be able to attract and retain skilled workers.
Another important consideration is transforming the area in a way that invites more people to come build a life in Elkhart County. The region needs to encourage families to come find a job, buy a house, and settle down here. It can only do that by making some much needed changes to the community. The Vibrant Communities initiative provides a plan of action, but it needs to be implemented more quickly in order to correct this shortage of employees soon.
The shortage of employees in Elkhart County provide an opportunity for young people to find financial stability and security without the investment in a four year degree. There are many positions available in the skilled trades and manufacturing that students can consider. The options are there, but it is important for young people to recognize them. Students who go away for college are encouraged to come back to work here.
In the real estate industry, a six-month supply of inventory is considered to be a stable market. With the recent increase in demand for housing, Michiana's real estate is currently experiencing a shortage of inventory. This is fantastic news for sellers and those thinking about selling their home, but it means buyers are facing much stiffer competition. Homes are being sold after only one day after listing. Many sellers are receiving multiple offers, and occasionally homes are sold for over the asking price.
The rising demand for homes in the area can be attributed to a number of reasons. The economy is flourishing, and the abundance of job opportunities and financial stability are incentives for many families to purchase a house in the area. With interest rates expected to rise in the next few years, buyers are jumping into the market rather than opting to wait any longer.
An early spring and warmer weather also helped to kickstart the real estate season. Buyers prefer to look at homes when conditions are more amenable. The snow and ice that accompanies winter can make the process of searching for homes and moving much more difficult and unpleasant. As such, real estate transactions are often less frequent during the harsh winter months.
What does this mean for you as a seller? If you have been considering listing your home for sale, now is a great time. Markets often balance themselves in the long run to bring supply and demand to an equilibrium. As residents begin to see a surge in home prices, more will be persuaded to list their homes. Those who have been putting off the sale of their home now have a greater incentive to do so. This real estate boom may not last, however. The increase in interest rates will be like to reduce the number of buyers in the market in the upcoming years.
For buyers who are worried about the prospect of being able to find their dream home in this real estate market, real estate experts have a few tips. First, it is important to have a clear idea of what you are looking for. Come prepared with a list of criteria when you begin your search, and be ready to place an offer right away if you find a house that meets your needs. With sellers often receiving multiple offers, there is less time to wait to make a decision. That being said, you should have a set budget and know what you are unwilling to compromise on. While there is currently that sense that you need to rush your decision in order to secure your home, a house is a big investment. It is not recommended that buyers go above what they can reasonably afford or settle in the moment for something that will become an issue later on. With the market being so competitive for buyers, a new construction may be a good alternative if you are unable to find what you are looking for.