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Local labor shortage: New shop experiencing hiring struggles firsthand

Hiring struggles
Posted at 12:04 AM, Nov 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-09 01:04:19-05
  • Workforce quantity is the main challenge facing Wisconsin's economic future, according to the Department of Workforce Development's 2023 workforce report
  • Brown County's labor force participation rate has been trending down since 2000, according to the report
  • One business experiencing the challenge firsthand is Diesel Barbershop, a new shop coming to Oneida Street that targets a male clientele
  • The shop, the first Diesel Barbershop in northeast Wisconsin, hopes to open its doors Dec. 4, but needs more employees
  • Video gives a first look at the barber shop and an explanation of the labor shortage from an employment expert

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

I'm your Ashwaubenon neighborhood reporter Karl Winter, and if you're like me and live in the Green Bay area, you know Oneida Street is no stranger to new businesses. But the biggest challenge for those new businesses is finding people to work in them. This barber shop is set to open next month, but I learned about its struggles in finding employees.

Molly Wilgreen is a first-time small business owner, investing in a Diesel Barbershop franchise. Wilgreen is not a hair stylist, so she's looking for a team of …

"Ideally six people," Wilgreen said. "Right now, we have one."

With weeks until opening day, it's just Wilgreen and her manager, Amethyst Baril.

To incentivize candidates, Wilgreen says she has offered bonuses and more paid vacation time.

"You just really have to pad your offers out there to get people interested in your job," Wilgreen said.

Diesel's problem is not unique. Brown County's labor force participation rate has been trending down since 2000, according to a state report this year.

"There's just not enough people to replace the baby boomers," Kim Sullivan said.

Sullivan, from Express Employment Professionals of Green Bay, which is based in Ashwaubenon, says baby boomers are leaving the work force — and the people coming in are more selective about what they're looking for.

"There's a lot of competition out there," Sullivan said, "so the smaller businesses are having a hard time competing against the bigger companies out there."

For Wilgreen and Diesel Barbershop, it means they need to be employee-friendly to see any return on investment.

"Hopefully by year two, we'll be singing a different song than now, because it's scary," Wilgreen said. "It's a lot of money."

Diesel Barbershop plans to open Monday, Dec. 4, but Wilgreen says she hopes to have three to five more stylists by then, so they don't have to shorten the hours in the opening weeks.