EAU CLAIRE, Wi. - Ashley Furniture is offering a new perk: free rides to work.
Low unemployment and a tight labor market means companies are having to get creative finding employees. The furniture giant's response was to run a shuttle bus from its two locations in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
“This is a new initiative for us, and it stems from the low unemployment rate,” said Cole Bawek, Ashley’s public relations director.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said that Wisconsin's unemployment rate fell to an all-time low of 2.8 percent in April. Ashley, one of the biggest furniture manufacturers in the world, is constantly growing and hiring. The company began advertised throughout Eau Claire that it would offer free rides to work in an effort to fill positions.
Eau Claire workers are shuttled to the company's Whitehall factory, which produces Ashley's Motion product line, which includes recliners, sofas, and other upholstered furniture.
Beginning Monday, a shuttle bus began serving the Ashley route from Eau Claire to Whitehall. Ashley’s Eau Claire shuttle service picks up workers from a downtown location and one on the city’s south side so they can get to work for the 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. shift.
If there's enough demand, Ashley said it would also offer rides for second-shift workers.
With unemployment projected to further decline and a shrinking workforce, some companies are relaxing their requirements for applicants. The Minnesota Department of Unemployment and Economic Development's Mark Schultz told the Lacrosse Tribune that the labor force in Wisconsin/Minnesota region is projected to decline more than 2.3 percent - amounting to roughly 6,200 positions over the next 10 years.
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