MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks North Dakota number one in the country when it comes to the lowest unemployment rate at 2.1% in February.
That is significantly lower than the national average of 3.6%.
So, why do we continue to see local businesses understaffed?
“It’s hard to keep things going when you don’t have people to work, without burning out the people that you have,” said Wendi Hoffer, a manager at The Starving Rooster.
This a common feeling among local business owners. Help wanted signs are everywhere in Minot. But how can that be when our state’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the country?
“There’s always flux in the job force down here. People get married, people move, people get divorced, people in the air force in and out,” said Margie Bolton, a Downtown Minot business owner.
Minot is unique in that way. The city sees an increase in population every year, but the people who are increasing our numbers, don’t always stay permanently.
“I know Minot is definitely a place that works with a lot of people and a lot of military spouses and stuff. So, you never really know what’s going to happen,” said Marissa Sander, the office manager at Fountain Behavioral Services.
Unpredictable circumstances are something business owners are used to since the pandemic.
But with retention rates so low, employers say they aren’t willing to take a chance on just anyone anymore.
Many say it’s not a lack of job applications they’re receiving, it’s about finding that hard-working right fit applicant.
“When I hire somebody, I feel committed because that’s their income, just like this is my income. But it’s a two-way sword where you can’t just have somebody standing around doing something. So, for the right person who’s motivated properly, people will snatch them up,” said Bolton.
But some local businesses don’t have retention problems and are fully staffed.
In fact, every single one of Gourmet Chef’s employees has worked there for at least a year, some even 10 to 20 years.
They say it’s because of the morale, communication, and understanding store leaders provide.
“Being able to be flexible with my employee’s hours. Being able to talk to them and go, hey we’ve got something big going on this day, everybody try to be here. But also, being able to give them the time off that they need like with their families,” said Olivia Kimberlin, the manager at Gourmet Chef.
Experts say people are holding out for their right fit as well. They are seeking jobs that allow them to afford high housing costs, receive benefits, and offer a good work-life balance.
19,000 job openings were reported in North Dakota as of February, up 2,000 openings, from January.