Low unemployment makes hiring a hard job for some firmsA low unemployment rate and competition from North Dakota’s Oil Patch region has local employers struggling to fill thousands of open jobs.
By: Brandi Jewett, Grand Forks Herald
A low unemployment rate and competition from North Dakota’s Oil Patch region has local employers struggling to fill thousands of open jobs.
Grand Forks staffing agencies and job experts say filling positions has become more difficult for employers, especially in industries such as retail, production, health care and construction.
The allure of high wages in the Oil Patch is pulling workers out of the Grand Forks market, according to Tom Fetch, a business service consultant with Job Service North Dakota’s Grand Forks office.
The situation is exacerbated by low unemployment. Grand Forks County recorded an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent last month —- half the national rate.
“There are plenty of jobs available,” said Scott Lindgren, manager of staffing agency Express Employment Professionals. “It’s finding the right people to fill them that’s difficult.”
The labor market is tight, and it is favoring jobseekers right now, according to Fetch.
Around 2,700 job openings for the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks metro area are listed on Job Service North Dakota’s website this week.
The majority of jobs advertised are in the retail trade with many looking to fill a variety of positions from sales clerks to stockroom staff.
The incoming wave of college students could alleviate an employee shortage in this sector and in hotel and food service, another industry always in need of workers, according to Fetch. An increase in hotels and restaurants in the city is driving up the number of openings, landing the sector on the list of industries with the highest job openings in the county.
Another high demand area is health care, with positions open in both professional and home care settings. According to Job Service’s website, Altru Health System had the largest amount of advertised job openings of all employers in the county at about 160.
More skilled jobs are in demand with the production, manufacturing and construction sectors, according to Fetch.
Welders, electricians, carpenters, plumbers and many types of mechanics are skilled occupations employers are continually looking to fill.
Another hot job is commercial truck driving. It’s a demand that spans across all industries, according to Fetch.
“If you can drive a truck, there’s a job out there for you,” he said.
A majority of the jobs Express Employment finds employees for are industrial jobs such as these, Lindgren said. Its biggest challenge is finding 1,300 people to work at American Crystal Sugar’s piling sites during the annual sugar beet harvest.
Another recent challenge it’s faced is fighting with the Oil Patch for employees, but Lindgren said more workers are realizing there are down sides to settling in the Oil Patch.
“A lot of folks have learned that jobs aren’t as plentiful out there. And even though they might pay $20 an hour, there isn’t any place to live,” he said. “You might get $15 an hour here, but at least there is housing.”
Call Jewett at (701) 780-1108; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1108; or send email to email@example.com.