Extra unemployment benefits offered during the COVID-19 pandemic have ended in Missouri, sending people to look for jobs again.
Now-hiring signs can be seen at most businesses, from restaurants to retail to manufacturers, as employers struggle to fill staffing needs.
Kristie Arthur, director of workforce development with the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, said the extra unemployment benefits ending on June 12 is good for employers.
“During the extra stimulus money that unemployed folks were receiving, there was a significant struggle with employers not being able to find help,” Arthur said. “But since the ... extra stimulus money has gone away, that there have been more applicants for employers to choose from. So that has been a positive thing.”
Places like Altec have been hosting job fairs to recruit more employees. According to Carolynn Sollars, human resources program manager and talent acquisition at Altec, those events have had a high turnout.
Arthur said Gov. Mike Parson listened to employers’ concerns and ended the unemployment benefits to encourage people to go back to work.
“I believe that his action has bared some fruit where people are starting to apply for open positions and feeling more comfortable going back to work. And so that’s a positive, not only for the employees but for the employers,” Arthur said. “Our wage in St. Joseph has increased over $23 an hour on average, and I believe that there are plenty of opportunities for people to get to work.”
Another factor impacting the lack of applicants locally is a decline in population in the past decade.
According to an executive summary from the University of Missouri Extension, the Northwest part of Missouri has lost nearly 5% of its population since 2010 due to residents leaving the state and decreasing childbirth.
The population discrepancy also affects the number of younger employees. However, Sollars said Altec has seen quite a few high school graduates with its latest hiring event.
“We’ve had a really good reception from some recent high school graduates coming in and applying, so I would just encourage them to make sure that you’re always ready for an interview, maybe do some practice interviews, do some practice questions, and that should help with their interviews,” Sollars said.
The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce has job listings on its Uncommon Character website at choosesaintjoseph.com/uncommon -life-job-center, which also offers other resources for searching and obtaining employment.