Employers beating the bushes to find employees

Monday, September 19, 2016

MANKATO — As human resources administrator at the Mankato Clinic, Becky Kahle knows all about the tight job market that continues to plague employers across Minnesota.

"It's definitely a competitive market out there."

She said the shortage of qualified candidates covers everything from practitioners to nurses and technical staff to clerical workers.

"I used to get 200 or 300 applicants, and now it's 100 or less. And there's fewer with the right qualifications."

The clinic's 10 sites now have about 30 openings.

She said health care facilities are already paying more and offering signing bonuses, so new strategies are needed. "We have to be creative. We have to make sure we have a good culture and look at things like work-life balance. We're reviewing a lot of different things to make sure our policies meet the needs of our staff."

The situation is the same across the region and the state, according to the latest quarterly Job Vacancy Survey done by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Minnesota employers reported 97,600 job vacancies in the second quarter. The seven-county Twin Cities metro had 53,984 of the openings, while Greater Minnesota had 43,616 openings.

In south-central Minnesota, stretching from Sibley County to the Iowa border, there were 4,253 job vacancies. In the area, the largest number of unfilled jobs, 784, were in construction occupations. Next was manufacturing, food service and personal care services, all with about 400 job openings each.

Health care, transportation, and maintenance each had 250 to 300 vacancies.

Architect and engineering jobs, which had 111 vacancies, pay the highest median wage of $32.83 per hour, followed by management jobs ($26.42), and health care ($22.68).

Josh Williams, vice president of WEB Construction in Mankato, said the tight job market has stretched on for years.

"The last five years it's been like that. After the downturn in '08 and '09, things started expanding around here and it was just harder to find people," Williams said.

With about 25 employees, WEB has seen fewer qualified candidates apply for jobs. "We've had to take more inexperienced people and train them — and hope they stick around."

As a general contractor, WEB needs employees for a variety of skills, from concrete work and carpentry to carpet installation and roofing. "To find people in any of those areas is difficult."

In Greater Minnesota, there were 1.3 unemployed people for each job vacancy, according to the survey. The ratio of unemployed people to job vacancies in the Twin Cities was 1-to-1.

“These figures suggest strong hiring demand statewide as more baby boomers retire and job growth continues at a steady pace,” DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy said in a statement.

By size, firms with 10 to 49 employees had the highest job vacancy rate at 5.2 percent (5.2 openings per 100 jobs). Firms with one to nine employees had a job vacancy rate of 4 percent, while firms with 250 or more workers had a vacancy rate of 2.2 percent.

Thirty-five percent of job vacancies were for part-time employment and 11 percent of job vacancies were for temporary or seasonal work.

Thirty-six percent of vacancies required some level of post-secondary education or training beyond a high school diploma.

Forty-five percent of job vacancies required one or more years of work experience.

This article originally appeared in the Mankato Free Press. To view the original article, please click here.