It’s good that it was such a big ad. Even better that it was in this newspaper. In fact, if you took a poll, you would learn that big ads in this newspaper are among our favorite things.

But it doesn’t say much good about things hereabouts.

In fact, the timing of the advertisement makes it even worse. That is, the advertisement was published the very same day the state of Idaho announced a surge in unemployment claims.

A big surge in unemployment claims.

The state paid some $12 million in cash in one week to people who could not find work. That is a massive increase compared to the same week last year. With the big jump in claims last week, those numbers are just going to go higher.

Even worse, things have been far worse. The state of Idaho has paid out some $779 million in total benefit payments since all this started.

You know all this already.

It’s not news the China virus destroyed the economy, or at least the reaction by the political class did. And while the point here isn’t to debate why, for the first time, politicians ordered healthy people to quarantine – there is room to debate whether we did the right thing.

Sweden did things differently. Instead of making healthy people stay home, they encouraged people susceptible to the virus to stay out of harm’s way. And yes, their economy suffered – but nothing like the rest of the world.

And just because you won’t read or see this in the daily media virus crush of ‘we’re-all-going-to-die-at-least-until-the-election-is-over’ the statistics out of Sweden are respectable by comparison.

But we’re off track.

The topic here is the full-color, half-page advertisement that ran on page 18 of the August 19 edition of this newspaper. The ad was purchased by PotlatchDeltic. The company used the space to announce job openings.

Job openings, as in HELP WANTED.

Think about that.

The very same week the state of Idaho announced a big jump in unemployment claims, the largest employer in Benewah County can’t find people to work.

In fact, the situation is serious enough that the company is running the announcement a second time this week.

And these are really good jobs. PotlatchDeltic not only offers a nice wage – a nice wage that was recently raised by $2 hour – but the company offers great benefits. This is a good workplace.

And PotlatchDeltic is not alone.

Jack Buell Trucking, another big employer in Benewah County, continues to face a shortage of manpower. The company has as many as 40 trucks parked – not for lack of work, but for lack of drivers.

And again, these are family-wage jobs with generous benefits. Family-wage jobs with generous benefits that go unfilled - at a time when the state is paying millions in unemployment benefits.

If mill work or trucking is not what you do, local retailers all face the same issue. An owner of a local restaurant echoed those sentiments. She said she was forced to close one day recently because she could not hire help.

Mill work, trucking and retail are not alone. Local contractors have long bemoaned the lack of labor, both skilled and unskilled. There are jobs available here, right now.

So that makes this the perfect place in the column to insert the customary old-man lecture about long uphill walks to school, in the snow, and how young people today won’t work etc. etc.

Perhaps there is some truth to employers grumbling about the new work ethic. But that’s not something the state can fix. They could, however, fix the other issue.

The state knows who is looking for work. They have their contact information. If they are lucky enough to read this newspaper, they also know that PotlatchDeltic – along with other local employers – need workers.

This seems like the perfect match.

One side has people looking for work and the other side is looking for people to work. Even a newspaper guy could figure this one out.

Easy? Of course not. The people looking for work would have to relocate. That costs plenty – maybe even more than that. The lack of housing here only adds to those costs. So the logistics of getting people from where they are to where the jobs are is not easy.

Or cheap.

But since in just a few months the state spent $779,000,000 helping people who can’t find work – it seems as if they could find some money, somewhere, somehow that they could use to help get people to where the jobs are.

In the meantime the number to call for those PotlatchDeltic jobs is 208-765-2000.

DAN HAMMES is publisher of the Gazette Record.

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