High unemployment states may seem attractive from an available-labor standpoint. But do the stats tell the whole picture? Les Cranmer, senior managing director at Studley in Philadelphia, doesn't think so. As he sees it, site selectors and location advisors need to dig deeper than the surface statistics.
"We all rely on the same sources, but right now those sources are outdated after about 30 days instead of after a year," Cranmer says. "There could have been a plant closing or downsizing that hasn't hit the reporting sources and won't for a while. So in this market, stats and data only get you so far."
Cranmer's advice: Get on the phone and visit communities. Talk to current employers, and find out what's really happening on the ground. The exercise will yield more accurate statistics and the bonus of insights into local cultures and trends. For example, some communities with high unemployment rates may be highly unionized, while others are not.
"If you go into a city and talk to people, you may find out the problems with organized labor aren't as big as they appear from the outside," Cranmer says. "So, again, the statistics may tell you one thing, but you really have to go out and have some live conversations and find out what happened yesterday, not last year.".
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