Benefits and Compensation

Small Towns Offer Perks to Recruit Young Workers

HR professionals around the country are feeling the pinch of a tight labor market. While a roughly 4.0% unemployment rate is great news for jobseekers, it poses a real challenge for recruiters.


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The low unemployment rate means that there are relatively few people out looking for work compared to the positions companies are hoping to fill. Consequently, jobseekers have additional leverage and can be more picky when selecting a job.

Creative Recruitment Techniques

Unsurprisingly, the need to attract top talent has led many companies to offer signing bonuses and other perks to potential recruits. But as David Harrison and Shayndi Raice write for The Wall Street Journal, many small cities and rural governments are getting into the recruitment game and offering perks to attract talent into their communities.
“Relocate to Hamilton [Ohio] and the city promises $5,000 to help pay student loans,” they write. “Pack up for Grant County, Ind., and claim $5,000 toward buying a home. Settle in North Platte, Neb., and the chamber of commerce will hold a ceremony in your honor to present an even bigger check.”

Small Towns Face Special Challenges

The issue these areas are facing is more macro than a single business struggling to find talent within its surrounding area. During the Great Recession, many well-educated and well-qualified young people left their native communities in search of opportunities in larger metropolitan areas.
This means that the problem of attracting talent is at the population level as opposed to the business level. Recognizing this, cities and rural governments across the country are considering initiatives like those discussed by Harrison and Raice.
The fact that even municipalities and local governments are offering perks to recruit talent from around the country is a sign of just how much importance is placed on human capital.
In areas hard hit by the Great Recession—where much of the younger generation left to find work elsewhere—these cities are finding themselves in a position in which they feel compelled to take it upon themselves to supplement the recruitment efforts of the businesses that make up their tax bases.