- Associated Press - Saturday, May 20, 2017

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - Many businesses in Indiana’s Elkhart County are struggling to find workers as the area is experiencing the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years.

The county’s unemployment rate in April was 2.8 percent, The Elkhart Truth (http://bit.ly/2qwpHgf) reported.

This is the lowest since 2.2 percent in October 2000, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor.

“It has been very difficult to find workers to fill the positions we have open,” said Corey Stewart, housekeeping coordinator at Oaklawn Psychiatric Center. “When we would put out an ad we, at least, would get a decent quantity of applications to look through. We don’t even get that now.”

The low unemployment rate has hit the food service industry particularly hard, with some restaurants closing early because they’re understaffed.

Mark Dobson, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, said he knows of at least two restaurants that close at lunch due to a lack of workers.

Josh Henney, a general manager at McDonald’s, said many workers are switching to the recreational vehicle industry because it pays more. Henney says he hopes to hire more teens to help with the staffing issues once summer starts.

Some companies are advertising local jobs outside of the county with the hope of attracting workers from places with higher unemployment rates.

“I know of at least one man who drives from Fort Wayne to work in the county,” said Chelsea TenBrook, a staffing specialist with Goshen Pro Resources Staffing Services. Her company has taken part in job fairs near Shipshewana and has signs up in White Pigeon, Michigan.

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Information from: The Elkhart Truth, http://www.elkharttruth.com

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