Wages. It All Comes Down to Supply and Demand

Wages, wages, wages.  It all comes down to supply & demand. I first learned about supply and demand in the last century, in High School!  I’m not going to bore you – if you’re reading this you know what it is.  But two news stories this morning made me think back to the big hair and parachute-pant days of the 1980’s.home-jobseekers-300x198[1]

The US Labor Department reported this morning that weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped to by 21,000 last week to a 15 week low.  As newscasters like to say, in related news….  Wal-Mart announced yesterday that it is spending $1 Billion (yup – Billion) to increase wages and improve training of their employees.  Wal-Mart will be raising entry level wages to at least $10/hr by February of next year.  This includes the less than 6000 Wal-Mart workers who make the Federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.

So – is this Wal-Mart suddenly becoming benevolent and giving money away?  I guess… not.  Is this Wal-Mart attempting to fend off unionization efforts?  Again – I think not.

It’s simple economics.  There are fewer and fewer qualified people for every job available today (the supply is down – to pre-recessionary levels in our market here at TriStarr).  More and more businesses both large and small are adding positions (demand is up – approaching pre-recessionary levels in our market here at TriStarr).  So what happens?  Wages and other benefits (like training and development) rise to attract the best candidates.

What are we seeing here in South Central Pa?  Our average wage (for our temp – yes TEMP) employees is hovering around $13.54 / hour for the first 6 weeks of this year.  Our lowest hourly wage is $10.00 per hour.  And – we continue to see wage pressure increase.  The pool of qualified candidates for positions continues to shrink as well.

So what do you do you say?  Our advice is to look closely at wages.  If you haven’t looked or adjusted wages lately – you’re probably low.  Screen and check the candidates you are able to attract very, very closely.  And if your candidate isn’t pushing you on pay – screen harder!  Or you could just call us – we identify, screen and select candidates every day.  Our testing and background checking procedures are second to none (and we’re in the middle of improving them yet again due to this candidate market!).  We’ll help you identify the best candidate for your open position – guaranteed.

Lancaster County Economy “Still Not Back” to Pre-Recession Levels…. Is that All Bad?

The National Association of Counties recently released its “County Economic Tracker 2014, Progress through Adversity” report and the headline is not good for Lancaster County. But upon further analysis I’m not so sure that I agree 100%.

The report looks at four areas: jobs; unemployment rate; GDP; and home prices.

The report states that the Lancaster County Economy remains behind in all four areas. I believe that in many respects that’s good. Here’s why.

  • Home Prices – It seems to me that overinflated home prices was a contributing factor in the recession (or mess as I like to call it) in the first place. Home prices are recovering – just not at pre-recession levels. I’d argue that’s better than if prices were back to those levels. Slower, incremental growth works for me in this area.
  • GDP – OK – this is one I’d like back at pre-recession levels. However – the forecasters I follow are all looking for smaller growth in the near term. Growth still works for me.

Now on to my specific area of expertise:

  • Job Growth & Unemployment Rate – I’m lumping the other two indicators of the report into one bullet. Lancaster County’s pre-recession unemployment rate was 3.6%. I’ve said this before – that’s too low. That number basically represents full employment – and is restrictive to companies looking to grow. Lancaster sits at 4.1%. We’re close. If you’re reading this you’re probably in the same boat we are here at TriStarr – it’s really hard to identify candidates for open positions. It’s our JOB and it’s hard. Now – for us this is good for business so I’m not complaining. More and more of you are turning to us to help you find and hire talent. However – it slows your growth, and does cost you money. And on this one folks I have to tell you – all the signs and forecasts I follow say we’re in for a tough hiring market for a while.

So – I don’t think we’re doing all that bad locally. Slower increases in housing prices and GDP growth means a softer fall in the inevitable next recession. And for me – a tough job market means our services are more and more necessary and cost effective. If you’re looking for people contact us. And don’t call me with the easy stuff (anyone can do that). Call us with the hard stuff. You’ll be glad you did.

Strong Hiring Numbers – Nationally and Locally

I subscribe to several industry emails to keep current.  In one email today there were three headlines (of the total of four) that really jumped out at me.  These headlines all show strong hiring numbers nationally and corroborate what we are seeing here locally.

First:  “US Manufacturing, Services Sectors’ July Hiring Plans Highest in Four Years”.  Based on a Society of Human Resources leading indicators survey the manufacturing sector reports that 58% of companies plan to hire and only 4.8% plan to reduce staff in July.  The services sector showed a similar trend with 54.4% reporting plans to hire and just 5.2% planning to reduce staff.  Both sectors report increased difficulty in recruiting professionals.  We are seeing this trend locally as well, with strong professional and temporary demand.  Further – we are also seeing the strongest wage pressure we’ve seen in years.  That’s upward pressure by the way.

The other two headlines sounded similar themes:

Second:  “US Adds 281,000 Jobs in June says ADP, Market ‘Improving’.”

Third:  “Online Job Ads Rise in June”

As stated above the employment market is tightening both nationally and locally.  We are seeing strong demand for qualified employees at all levels – and the supply is similar to what we were seeing pre-recession.  That’s why our business is strengthening lately.  More and more clients are turning to us to help them identify talent.  I’ve had several clients call lately exacerbated because they could not identify key staff.  SIX of those calls turned into Direct Hire placements for us in July.  We found the people our clients (and in several cases our competition) could not find.

If you’re having trouble identifying talent; number one, you’re not alone.  Number two, call us – we can help.

TriStarr’s Temporary Employee Workforce

So what does the temporary employee workforce “look like”?

admin staffing job seekers Recently TriStarr participated in a National Survey conducted for the American Staffing Association by Penn Schoen Berland.  The goal was to gather information about the temporary workforce.  By participating in the survey we were able to receive specific information about TriStarr’s temporary workforce.  There were some very interesting and positive facts that I’d like to share.

88% of our Temporary Associates reported they were extremely or very satisfied with TriStarr Staffing.

75%  of our Temporary Associates are registered exclusively with TriStarr Staffing.

80% of our Temporary Associates either have some college experience (22%) or at least a Bachelor’s degree (58%)

68% of our Temporary Associates prefer full time work assignments

88% of our Temporary Associates feel that temporary work has made them more employable

While we’re not perfect and we’re always looking for ways to improve, I was very pleased when looking at this data.  TriStar has a satisfied, skilled and educated workforce – that guess what? You have to come only to TriStarr (for the most part) to get!


admin staffing services promo


What to Wear to Work – How to Dress in the Workplace

Does adhering to a dress code really matter at work? The answer is yes; what you wear to work can either make or break you. You’ve heard the old adage “Dress for Success” and it is true. Not observing dress guidelines makes you stand out in a bad way. No one wants to be known for wearing ripped and faded jeans, a razorback tee and crocs to work. Remember that humans are inherently visual so if you make an attire mistake it will stick in your coworkers or supervisors minds.

Navigating the nuances of dressing for success can be hard. To help I’ve compiled a simple list of attire that is appropriate for a casual, business casual, and professional work environments. These are just guidelines so remember to be cognizant of the specific guidelines for your job and your company.

Guidelines for Casual Attire:

what to wear to work


  • Sundress
  • Long skirt or short
  • Jeans or khakis
  • Casual button-down or tee
  • Sneakers, loafers, sandals


  • Jeans or khakis
  • Casual button-down or tee
  • Sneakers, loafers, sandals
  • Casual button-down or tee
  • Polo shirt

Guidelines for Business Casual Attire:


  • Skirt, dresses, khakis or dress slacks
  • Knit shirt, sweater
  • Loafer, heels, dress shoes

what not to wear to work


  • Blazer/Sport Coat
  • Khakis or dress slacks
  • Button-down shirt (tie optional)
  • Loafers with socks

Guidelines for Business Professional:


  • Skirt suit/pant suit
  • Dress with jacket
  • Stockings (optional in summer)
  • Heels or dress shoes


  • Business suit
  • Leather shoes or dress shoes
  • Conservative Tie

Upward Wage Pressure is Forecasted

As I’ve reported here recently – upward wage pressure is forecasted especially in the 3rd and 4th quarters this year.  Click here to see more details in an article from the Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

Locally we are seeing upward wage pressure across all of our service lines.  As the supply of qualified labor continues to tighten increased wages are the natural progression.  Further, as the labor supply tightens and wages rise – qualified workers will be more apt to consider new positions.


Lancaster County Unemployment Rate Continues to Fall

The Lancaster County Unemployment Rate continues it’s fall.  Lancaster County’s jobless rate fell to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent in February.  This is the seventh straight month that the unemployment rate has fallen and Lancaster County remains home to one of the lowest unemployment rates in the State.

Good news, right?  Not necessarily.  If you’re hiring, or trying to right now, the declining unemployment rate makes it harder to attract talent, as well as more expensive.  Fewer candidates mean longer searches and in the end higher wages.  We’re on the front lines – and this is exactly what we’re seeing.

This candidate driven market that we’re in means you need to be more diligent and work harder to find top talent.  The best and brightest aren’t sitting on the sidelines – they’re working.  How do you find them?  Well – we can help.  Call us.  But that’s not my main theme today.  Here are some ideas to help you navigate this talent market.

Set Reasonable Expectations.  The days of piles of applications for your position are over.  Remember you’re looking for quality anyway.  I always say I’d rather get three or four great resumes than fifty marginal ones.

Move Quickly.  When you find a good candidate – move!  They will not be around for long.  Don’t get hung up looking for one more candidate.  In this market, waiting to see one more candidate could cost you the first one.  And by the way – if they have been around for long…   be skeptical (see the next point).  Don’t think you can take weeks to make a decision on a candidate.  We could a few years ago – those days are over.

Be Skeptical.  As always please check, check again, and oh, one more time – check again!  Know who your hiring.  Test them, reference them , background check them, look at their Facebook page.  It’s pretty easy to hire someone – not as easy to fire them.

Be Prepared to Pay.  Wage pressure is increasing.  Our average annualized pay is $23,500 right now.  We’re a temp firm.  We’re at the lower end of the wage scale.  Know the wage market for your open positions and price yourself accordingly.  If you need some help – email me – I’d be happy to help make sure you’re paying appropriate wages for your team.

Know Where to Look.  Make sure you’re looking in the right places for your candidates.  Oh – and those places aren’t where they used to be.  Sorry – not telling.  I’m not giving away everything for free.

Finally – get used to this.  We’re going to be in this market for a while.

Need help?  Contact us.  You’ll be glad you did.

Finding Your Niche

You just graduated and you are being thrust into the big world.nich job wanted sign
For the past twenty-ish years of your life, it has been planned out for you. You go to school, make good grades, go to college, make good grades, and get an internship. You no longer have your professors or guidance counselors or parents guiding your decisions. You are on your own. This is your wake-up call, you can do what you want, when you want it. Europe, anyone? But after the luster of receiving your diploma has worn off, you begin to realize that the world is open to you and that is a frightening concept (or it was for me at least).

When I graduated, I thought that I had reached the pinnacle and it would effortless to land my first “real” job in the Public Relations field and I would be so successful that they would promote me to Account Manager and I would be a lifer at that organization. My expectations and my reality collided and my beliefs of effortlessness were put to bed.

I thought that I had reached the pinnacle and it would be effortless to land my first “real” job

The things that professors told me in college about it being easy to find work began to be slowly peeled back to reveal that in today’s economic climate having a good internship, good grades and proving yourself in school will not necessarily land you a job. When I graduated in 2011, the economy was unstable at best. Volatile is probably a more apropos description. I as a recent college graduate was competing with professionals who had actual years of experience in the field and I couldn’t compete. Some of my friends were lucky enough to land jobs from their internships but I wasn’t that lucky. My job hunt felt like I was wading through the briar patch and the thorns of rejection and the stickers of never hearing back were beginning to take its toll. I thought I was destined to work retail for the rest of my life. I made a commitment that working retail for the rest of my life was not an option and I would get another internship to beef up my resume..

When you graduate from college, you think that you can only apply to jobs that are in your field

I landed an internship at a local-nonprofit as their Public Relations and Event Planning Intern. I helped with events and logistics but mainly I input data in Raiser’s Edge. This internship kept me busy and helped ease my frustrations about my unemployed status. I wrapped up my internship in July and landed a temporary HR position at a local school district. This opportunity catapulted me in the HR field. I was basically thrown into the deep end and asked to not only stay afloat but also help the HR department have a semblance of order niche job search diagrambecause of the restructuring that was taking place at school district. This position helped crystallize my focus on what I wanted out of a career path.  And I landed a full-time permanent position in the HR field after that temporary position

When you graduate from college, you think that you can only apply to jobs that are in your field but my winding path led me to realize to not limit yourself to only jobs that are within your field but think about what types of things you enjoy and then find a position that matches those things. Working at a Temp Agency is one way to test out what you like and don’t like. Graduating from school is scary enough without really knowing what you want to do with you degree.

My tips for not getting frustrated with your job hunt and to stay calm when you aren’t hearing back from organizations that you applied to are as follows:

  • Work at TriStarr – temporary positions are an amazing opportunity to get experience and to find what types of positions you enjoy
  • Volunteer
  • Network – join organizations that interest you and meet people that could help you on your job hunt
  • Make a list of things you enjoyed about previous work experiences

Until next time,