The work here can be physically demanding. Not a lot of people want to do it -- even though the average wage here is $16 per hour plus benefits.I'm no economist, but I do understand that supply 'n' demand works both ways. An employer who just can't get good help these days is an employer who's not paying wages that are high enough for good help. Sixteen an hour plus benefits is not a high wage -- you're looking to take home only some $11 or $12 after taxes. And it'll disqualify you from food stamps and other benefits.
Tom Hensley, the company president, says Fieldale Farms hires just about anyone who can pass a drug test.
"We hire 100 people a week. Because we have 100 people who quit every week, out of 5,000 employees," he says. "We're constantly short."
"So we've had to hire middle-aged Americans who have not been used to working in an industrial facility and they have difficulty keeping up with the machines. So it's not the same labor force that we had 10 years ago," Hensley says.So slow down the machines and pay the workers a respectful wage, a wage that "middle-aged" people, who probably have dependents at home as well, can actually live on.