Low unemployment rate makes recruitment a challenge

Employers in Finney County have a small pool of applicants to choose from

FINNEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Unemployment continues to drop in western Kansas, according to the Kansas Department of Labor. It’s great news for job seekers but tough on employers trying to fill positions.

This time last year, unemployment in Finney County was at 3 percent, which is already below the  national average. It’s dropped to 2.1 percent.

It’s a change that makes some Garden City employers nervous.

“We need people in western Kansas,” said Justin Sanchez, who oversees operations at Tatro Plumbing Co. “There’s just not enough people to fill the positions that are available right now.”

His company could hire another ten employees, if they had the applicants.

“It really keeps us from growing. There’s a lot of opportunity out in western Kansas that we could continue to grow, so it holds us back.”

He says fewer people are looking for manual labor jobs.

Meanwhile, Mosaic — a nonprofit assisting those with intellectual disabilities — gets applicants who aren’t qualified.

“GED or your high school diploma, 18, and a clean background check,” said Vickie Harshbarger with Mosaic, “and it’s amazing how many applicants we get that can’t even fill those requirements.”

They have 15 open positions out of 100. It strains the nonprofit’s resources.

“Unfortunately whenever you have open positions,” said Harshbarger, “then you increase overtime. Overtime then increases overhead and when you’re in a service market like ourselves, that overhead sometimes is a pretty narrow margin.”

Sanchez says the lack of candidates has worried him for the three years.

“There will be a time when we’ll have to tell a customer we can’t actually do your work because we don’t have the employees to fulfill the commitment, and that’s scary,” he said.

Harshbarger says Garden City is on the right path by expanding. New businesses and entertainment venues can help attract families that will add to the work force.

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