ELKHART — The lowest unemployment rate in Elkhart County in 17 years is affecting the bottom line for employers, as many businesses scramble to find workers.
Sitting at 2.8 percent for the month of April, the county's unemployment rate is tied for the lowest in the state along with Dubois and LaGrange counties, and has hit a low not reached since a 2.2 percent unemployment rate in October 2000, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The impact of such a low unemployment rate is perhaps no more visible than in the area's food service industry, with many restaurants having a difficult time recruiting and retaining employees. The situation is so critical, as some restaurants have been forced to close early some nights due to a shortage of labor.
Matthew Harrington, a shift supervisor at the Penguin Point on West Bristol Street, said that the restaurant has had to close early "a couple of nights" due to a lack of employees to cover shifts.
"Right now, we are doing pretty good, but the trouble is finding workers that want to work and stay employed here," he said.
Mark Dobson, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, said that he knows of at least two restaurants that have had to close their doors for lunch due to a lack of workers.