It’s said that, ultimately, all politics are local. So too, unsurprisingly, is the issue of employment.
In a twist of irony hard for many of us to swallow I’m sure, a technical call center in Minot, North Dakota is closing down because–brace yourself–the employer cannot find enough workers for a proposed expansion. Ergo, 200 current employees lose their jobs because 250 more could not be found.
Readers may recall my article a while back on relocation. When the economy shifts, for whatever reason, there’s a good possibility that imbalances will pop up here and there between employer needs and worker availability. In the Great Depression this led to trains swarmed by desperate itinerants hopeful that work lay at the next station or beyond. The US has not reached that point yet but the fact remains that losses at Point A typically result in needs at Point Z. For a certain number of people losing their homes, a job opens up for a collection agent. An inescapable and natural cruelty.
Why Sykes Enterprises originally chose to set up shop in cold, bleak, remote Minot I’m not sure. I’ve driven through North Dakota. There’s nothing there. Apparently, that includes call center techs. However, they do have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.
What’s also missing from the linked story is how far and wide Sykes actually looked (only a local search is mentioned), and what possible incentives may have been offered to potential candidates. If Sykes was serious about keeping the Minot center open, might they have bought up mortgages for prospects who were “underwater”? Could they have dangled relocation packages? Made the salaries too attractive to resist? Better yet, offered work from home– wherever that may be?
Odds are the center did not provide enough value to support certain expenditures, but I’m speculating. Still, one wonders if the original need just went away, too, or if Sykes will try to expand at another location. That was also missing from the story, leading me to wonder just how soft and easy journalism schools have become…