Staffing Shortages impacting Burleigh and Morton County

Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 5:40 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Job Service North Dakota had 3,317 job openings in Burleigh and Morton County in September. The agency says North Dakota’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average.

The Kirkwood Mall is full of businesses looking to hire more employees. Tammy Wahl, the owner of Uptown Loft Boutique, has had more trouble than usual hiring workers this year.

“I would just say a little shortage of employees working on longer shifts. We just have more employees working shorter shifts, but it’s been a struggle since last year and the year before,” said Wahl.

There is still a large worker shortage, with more than 1,084 residents in Burleigh and Morton County unemployed in September. Amy Arenz, a workforce manager at Job Service, says there are many reasons for the shortage.

“Some of it is individuals that have retired, and we knew that generation, the baby boomer generation, was going to start retiring. They have started retiring, and a lot of them did a quicker retirement, you know, than what they were planning after COVID. So, you see a lot of the retired individuals that are not in the workforce anymore,” said Arenz

Arenz says other factors like birth rates that aren’t high enough to fill job openings for people retiring, employees moving to higher paying positions, people seeking out specific career paths and workers who are in between jobs all contribute to the shortage of workers.

“So, with the workforce shortage, I mean, it’s something that we kind of prior to COVID really expedited just with some of the different things that happen. So, there’s a lot of different things that play into why we are in a workforce shortage,” said Arenz.

The struggle to find staff has prompted some employers to raise wages and offer incentives, like the owners of businesses in the Kirkwood Mall.

“I think it’s more competitive than it’s ever been, so people are having to have competitive wages, better hours, better discounts, things like that just to get employees to apply,” said Mikalah Auer, marketing director at Kirkwood Mall.

Arenz says unemployment rates fluctuate throughout the year and change every season.

Job Service North Dakota has several programs to help residents seeking practice interviews, help getting resumes together, or help finding jobs.