Feeling the pressure: Temp agencies straddle the line between demand for labor and competitive wages

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The demand for labor has not only put pressure on employers but also the temp agencies looking to fill open positions for their clients. 

Chris Rickerson, the owner of Elite Staffing Solutions, said the pay needs to be right for people to consider rejoining the workforce. 

“The companies that are still trying to recruit for $10 an hour are living a nightmare right now because it’s just not possible,” said Rickerson.

Rickerson has worked in staffing for a decade and said he has never seen anything like this. 

“I could see the flow of traffic stop immediately,” he said.

When people stopped walking through his door looking for work, he switched gears.

“Just bumped up bill rates to our customers and increased pay rates to our employees,” he added.

Rickerson said many of his competitors are struggling because they’re not paying up. 

“Unemployment right now equates to roughly $15 per hour — if you’re not paying $15 an hour or more, those people aren’t incentivized to go to work,” commented Rickerson. 

Jeremy Hill, an economist for WSU’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research, said he doesn’t necessarily agree. He says it’s not that people don’t want to go to work, but rather don’t fit the roles available.

“Their skill doesn’t match up where the jobs are going. If they do step down to a job that is below their skill level, it could hurt their longer term career,” said Hill.

Rickerson and Hill agree wages need to be increased, 

“I’m not interested in recruiting at $10 an hour or anything near that,” said Rickerson.

“We have a need to increase wages, right, if you really want labor, you increase the wage that will attract people in,” said Hill.

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