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November 25, 2020

 

 
 
 
 

In the U.S., nearly one-fourth of the manufacturing workforce is age 55 or older, a demographic reality that signals a labor shortage for the nation’s fifth-largest employer. A recent survey found that retaining and attracting quality workers is one of the top challenges facing the manufacturing industry. The labor shortage in manufacturing is due to the aging and gradual retirement of baby boomers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Job-to-Job Flows Explorer data tool, the top five industries manufacturing workers who left manufacturing in 2016 went into were: Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services; Construction; Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; and Wholesale Trade; and Retail Trade. Companies nationwide are attracting skilled workers through retention incentives that include flex schedules, paid vacation time, family events, shift-work and competitive pay. The need for social distancing during the pandemic may lead to a growing virtual workforce. For example, teams of specialists connected remotely can guide and support a smaller number of on-site personnel.

 

 
 
 
 

Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband announced a new Digital Equity Package, enlisting state, local, nonprofit and philanthropic support to address gaps in digital access, adoption, and affordability for high-speed internet access. The comprehensive approach is designed to help communities identify and address existing broadband equity gaps, as well as to leverage new and existing sources of funding for long-term broadband equity. New plans to spearhead digital equity for Illinois build on Governor Pritzker's Connect Illinois program, a $420 million investment to bring universal access throughout the state by 2024. The announcement directs an initial $750,000 to advance these goals through complementary grants and programming to promote broadband planning and capacity building and to aid in the creation of the nation's first integrated statewide network for improving digital equity and inclusion - namely, by addressing gaps in household access to computing devices, hotspot connectivity, and digital literacy skills. The announcement opens application windows for three complementary opportunities - for funding and collaboration - involving regional broadband equity evaluation and engagement, community broadband planning and capacity building, and locally integrated "digital navigator" development. For more information, see the press release.

 

 
 
 
 

For every dollar Americans spend on their Thanksgiving dinner this year, farmers and ranchers will earn approximately 11.9 cents, according to National Farmers Union (NFU). This marks a slight decline from 2019, when farmers claimed 12.15 cents of the Thanksgiving food dollar. Though farmers’ increasingly small share of food expenditures could be blamed on dropping commodity prices in years past, that isn’t the case this Thanksgiving; after cratering during the pandemic, prices for many agricultural products have mostly recovered. Instead, the shift can be attributed to higher grocery bills. In the last 12 months, food prices have risen nearly 4 percent, far outpacing the 1.4 percent rate of overall inflation. Even though consumers are paying 4 percent more for food, almost none of that is being passed on to farmers and ranchers. Instead, it’s being captured by the processors, packers, distributors, and retailers in between. Nowhere has this been more evident than the meat sector; retail beef prices have increased more than 10 percent over the last 12 months, but ranchers are earning essentially the same amount for cattle as they were a year ago. The Farmers’ Share is based on calculations derived from the monthly Agriculture Prices report produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and price points of common grocery food items at Safeway supermarket. The farmer’s share of retail turkey sales is reported by the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, as national data on farm prices for turkey does not reflect the amount turkey growers receive. The Thanksgiving Farmers’ Share can be viewed and downloaded here.

 

 
 
 
 

For more information on the BIG (Business Interruption Grant) program, join one of the webinars listed below. Grants have been allocated to rural communities in the rural regions of the State of Illinois to help small and medium sized businesses navigate through these challenging times. In this webinar, attendees will learn about eligibility criteria, required documentation and step-by-step instructions for the online application. DCEO representatives will be available to answer your questions and all attendees will receive a copy of the presentation materials with direct links to the BIG program portal, FAQs and contact information for DCEO representatives who are available for 1-to-1 technical assistance. 

 

 
 

UPCOMING EVENTS

December 2nd (Webinar) - Rural Communities & the Business Interruption Grant (BIG)

December 4th (Webinar) - Rural Communities & the Business Interruption Grant (BIG)

December 10th (Webinar) - Rural Communities & the Business Interruption Grant (BIG)

 
 
 
 
 

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