The unemployment rate around Ada currently sits at 3.4 percent which is a complete point behind the state’s rate for August. Practically every discussion relating to economic growth that I have had involves available workforce. In order to ensure continued growth and development, we need to address key issues which affect the entire state, but are more critical in rural Oklahoma. We are focusing much of our economic development efforts toward increasing the workforce pool. The obvious solution is to attract more employees, but with an unemployment rate less than 5 percent for the entire state we must look outside Oklahoma. Locally, we have to address fundamental barriers to employment such as: healthcare costs, childcare options, and job satisfaction.
Over the last month, the Ada Jobs Foundation has actively participated in several community related projects to enhance the quality of lives for our residents. Senator Paddack sponsored legislation that authorized the CHAT surveys which will lead the state’s efforts to provide medical insurance coverage for many Oklahomans. The rising costs of health care have made it increasingly difficult for businesses, not only in Ada but across the state, to provide health insurance to their employees. The increased costs directly impact everyone through higher prices for production materials, at the cash register and in the hospital.
The East Central University Childcare Referral Network recently recognized the area providers who take care of the youngest citizens. As part of the recognition, we were able to tour various locations and talk to the providers as to problem areas for both them and their customers. According to ECU staff, they hear constant complaints pertaining to the lack of adequate childcare in Ada. Our employees are not as productive in their jobs if they are worrying about their children’s well-being. After-hours childcare is another issue that is affecting our community. Childcare for shift workers is practically non-existent which has a direct bearing on industry production and the employee’s paycheck.
Ada Jobs Foundation teamed up with the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce and Pontotoc Technology Center to provide a training workshop on employee retention. It was heavily attended and well received. Kristine Sexter, Work Wise Productions, presented several concepts to the audience. We anticipate two additional workshops in the near future on Employee Recruitment and Supervisor Training. Any business (industrial, service, etc.) is invited to attend.
For more information please contact our office at 580 235-0070.