Hundreds of factory workers may have just been laid off from jobs at a large automotive plant in northern Illinois, but the economy is likely to help put them back to work.
1,300 former Jeep makers are spending their first week as former employees of the plant in Belvidere after Fiat Chrysler announced sluggish consumer demand forced the company to reduce production.
The company announced more layoffs Monday, telling WREX in Rockford that “FCA has determined that additional staffing actions were needed to properly align with the plant’s return to a two shift operating pattern that began today. As a result, the Company notified the state of Illinois, the city of Belvidere and the UAW today that the total number of people who could be potentially impacted is being revised to 1,403.”
Some workers were given opportunities to transfer to other locations, but for the ones who stayed in the Rockford area, the odds of getting another job are high. Matt Giebel, a co-owner of an Express Employment Professionals staffing service in Rockford, said the workers are looking for jobs in a historically healthy job market.
“Everybody’s starving for people,” he said. “There was a jobs fair there last week with 50 employers looking for the best people.”
Giebel said he thinks the low-skill workers that had higher pay may not immediately be able to find other jobs with similar wages, but the competition for workers will likely catapult job offers higher.
“They’re going to have to out-compete each other,” he said.
The Rockford area reported an unemployment of 5.5 percent in March.
The same situation has played out in other cities like Peoria and Decatur that have seen larger companies like Caterpillar and ADM layoff or relocate workers in recent years.