Thousands of jobs available across Kansas City metro going unfilled

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Thousands of jobs are available across the Kansas City metro, but the positions remain unfilled, NewsNation affiliate WDAF reports.

Low-paying retail jobs aren’t the only means of employment to be had. Employment agencies across the metro complain they’re not getting enough applicants for jobs, ranging from office work to healthcare to retail to tech. 

Shelley Penn, Full Employment Council vice-president, said her agency has 5,400 jobs that have been posted within the last 30 days, some of which are well-paid positions. However, the agency has received only 419 applications for those positions.

Penn said some of those positions require skills for which applicants will need training. Penn also said she’s surprised that she’s seeing very few female applicants.

“What we’re hearing is — I don’t have proper child care, I’m unsure of the schools and how they[re going to operate. We’ve seen a huge disappearing act of women in the job force,” Penn said.

Economists in the metro report a metro-wide unemployment rate of 4.5%, which is much-improved from a pandemic-worst 12.88%.

Penn said at times, she wonders if hiring managers aren’t being too picky, especially after a pandemic that wreaked havoc on the labor market..

“You’re seeing most job-seekers want the opportunity to train and earn,” Penn said. “They want to know that if this thing happens again, they’ll be ok and their job will be there. So, there’s some hesitation to go back to what I used to do.”

In Wyandotte County, Greg Kindle, president at the Wyandotte County Economic Development Council, said his agency knows of 7,300 positions that are available, especially in the healthcare and manufacturing fields.

Kindle said some positions his agency would like to see filled pay as much as $75,000 annually. Kindle added that many fast-food restaurants around Wyandotte County are also looking for new hires. 

“We really want to connect Wyandotte County residents in particular to those jobs and get that median household income up and continue to lower that unemployment rate, but also, meet the needs of our businesses,” Kindle said.

Hiring managers are also hungry to see movement. Ammy Washington, Director of Talent Acquisition with Truman Medical Center University Health, represents a hospital that raised its minimum hourly wage to $15 per hour in hopes of attracting more applicants. Washington said the hospital is searching for qualified nurses and nursing staff members — the demand, for which, kicked up during the pandemic.

“I’ve got some connections in Texas that I used to work with. It’s bone dry there just like it’s bone dry here, as far as the need for applicants. Everything seems to come full circle and I’m hopeful this bubble pops soon,” Washington said.

Many people NewsNation affiliate WDAF interviewed for this story mentioned the topic of training, and the desire to see more employers offer on-the-job training for new hires. Penn shrugged in agreement, saying, in many cases, the skilled laborers are already on the job. 

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