The nation’s unemployment rate went from 6.4 percent in November 2020 to 3.9 percent 12 months later.

North Dakota has seen a similar trend with the state’s unemployment rate dropping from 4.3 percent to 2.5 in that same time frame.

And while the unemployment rate is going down nationwide, workers are still needed.

“It is tough for our employers to fill the positions they have,” said Susan Ogurek, the workforce center manager at Job Service North Dakota. “There’s quite a bit out there. There’s a wide variety of positions, all levels of experience from entry-level to experienced, across a number of occupations and industries.”

In December 2021, there were a lot of job openings in the state.

There were 17,000 positions statewide and more than 1,100 in Ward County, Ogurek says.

A local Starbucks is feeling the effects and had to change their hours due to being short-staffed.

Part of the reason there seems to be a shrinking labor pool is because of retirement and people starting their own businesses, among many other reasons.

“Maybe both spouses don’t have to work,” said Ogurek. “That they can survive, and still do very well, on one paycheck. One spouse stays home. Daycare can be a challenge to find and also it’s expensive, so looking into all those factors, we have less workforce.”

In order to keep up with changing market, employers have to find new ways to encourage people to apply.

“We always tell job seekers that they need to promote themselves to the employer, but it’s also the employer promoting working for them,” said Ogurek. “It could be changing hours, things like that, being flexible. We’re seeing that a lot of employers are providing hiring bonuses to their new employees.”

Some jobs may even allow people with children to pick them up and take them home during their shifts, Ogurek says.

Job Service North Dakota is a resource to connect employers and job seekers over the state. It also is available to help develop resumes and make people feel more confident for their future job interviews.