• Last modified 681 days ago (July 9, 2020)


Jobs as hard to fill as they are to find

Staff writer

Although unemployment in Kansas has swelled to 11.9% many Marion County businesses are having the opposite problem.

Several employers have been advertising for multiple positions. Even local branches of chains like Dollar General and Casey’s have been posting help-wanted notices for months.

Salem home administrator Lisa Donahue is used to needing more employees.

“In long-term care there are always problems with finding help,” she said. “That’s a standard. It’s a burnout job, so nurse’s aides in particular, eventually they get tired and move on to a different place, which is totally understandable.”

Finding applicants has become more difficult for some employers with people receiving a $600 extension of unemployment and $1,200 stimulus payments.

“Nobody can compete against that,” Florence mayor Bill Harris said. “That’s where our issue is. We have good benefits.”

The unemployment extension will expire this month unless it is extended.

Florence has an opening for a trash truck driver but has received only one application despite offering between $16 and $17 an hour.

“It took me a long time before I made more than that,” Harris said. “I had to put a lot of years into my job to make that much. We’re willing to start people at that much.”

Finding an applicant with proper qualifications makes the search more difficult.

“We just have to keep advertising,” Harris said. “We only have one employee who has a commercial driver’s license in town, and he’s our city superintendent. His job is do more than drive the trash truck, but that’s where we’re at right now, is him driving trash truck.”

Nursing positions at Salem also have their own requirements, but that doesn’t extend to every job, like part-timers in the kitchen.

Many of the kitchen positions are being filled by high schoolers. That started when one staffer’s family member joined part-time.

“He invited some of his friends to take some of the other part-time positions, and that has really worked,” Donahue said. “It’s good experience because when they do have to really look for jobs, they can already say they have experience.”

One factor that made jobs at Salem more difficult was that for two or three months employees weren’t allowed to leave during their shifts. Employees had to stay at Salem even during breaks to reduce possible COVID-19 exposure.

“There’s no doubt that’s tough,” Donahue said. “I noticed it because I’m used to getting out of the building at least once a day. That was important to me, and that was my down time.”

All staff members even now have to check in when their shifts start, take their temperatures twice a day, and wear masks.

“Those are really important things that also play into how this job looks,” Donahue said.

During lockdown Donahue was looking to fill several positions but since it ended Salem has begun having better luck.

“Just recently we’ve had a surge in applicants, so we’ve been able to hire,” she said. “I don’t know that all our positions are filled, but a lot of them are.”

Last modified July 9, 2020