Editorial: Too many jobs to go around

York Dispatch

It's a nice problem to have.

From left, Marketing Coordinator Jessica Phillips, and Recruiting Specialist Brittany Allen, of Appleby Systems, Inc., talk to, from right, Harli Weber, of Stewartstown, Tasia Kinard, of York City, Nevin Kasten, of Red Lion, and Russel Smith, of Red Lion, as job recruiters host job seekers during York Career Fair at Santander Stadium in York, Pa. on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.  Dawn J. Sagert - dsagert@yorkdispatch.com

As York's unemployment rate drops to its lowest level in seven years, local business people are concerned that the area could have too much of a good thing.

The worry is that, with only 4.2 percent of workers in the York area looking for work, it will be hard to draw new employers to the county.

That makes sense. After all, new businesses need new employees, and they're unlikely to set up shop in a place where everyone already has a job.

The York County Economic Alliance is working to align the skills available here with the skills new employers will need, according to Darrell Auterson, president and CEO of the YCEA.

"This is an 'all hands on deck' problem and will likely continue (for the foreseeable future)," Auterson told reporter David Weissman recently.

One of York County's strengths is its manufacturing base, providing a solid core of around 30,000 well-paying jobs for the area. Those high-paying jobs then provide a foundation for retail and health care jobs, the industries that are growing.

But those manufacturing workers with years of experience are starting to get older, and the baby boomers who went into the industry straight out of high school are retiring.

As that happens, new workers have a chance to step into those high-wage jobs, if only they have the training.

The Manufacturers' Association of South Central Pennsylvania is stepping up to make that necessary training available for those who want those jobs in industrial electrics, tooling, metal work and other areas.

Programs from the York County School of Technology to South Western High School to Central York are preparing students for the new manufacturing industry. After all, these are now high-tech jobs requiring skills in math and reasoning more than muscle.

And make no mistake, these are high-level jobs. Manufacturing workers made an average of $62,079 in 2013, with an additional $17,583 in benefits, according to themanufacturinginstitute.org. In contrast, nonmanufacturing workers took home an average of $50,140 and $11,977 in benefits.

Those are jobs York County needs to attract, and the only way to do that is to continue to educate today's workers and tomorrow's as much as possible.

If York County can present a well-educated, trained workforce, any company should be searching for a new site here.