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Better To Be Looking For Workers Or Looking For A Job?

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Raj Rana
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KCUR

As employers struggle to staff their facilities, workers' priorities are changing about the kind of work they want or need to do.

The pandemic has left its mark on the current labor market. Recently, the unemployment rate in Kansas City, MO increased from 1.5% to 2% but it is still better than the national average of 5.9%.

"There's still uncertainty and transitional activity, as far as school starting and getting everyone matched up with the right employer and people trying to get that jobs that they want to actually keep" said Frank Lenk, of the Mid-America Regional Council.

The coronavirus is also a factor. Abigail Devereaux, assistant professor of economics at Wichita State University, says "There's still some uncertainty going on, probably around the delta variant" but noted that Wichita State will have masks on campus and is offering vaccines.

Devereaux points out additional factors affecting employment may be cultural or demographic changes due to the pandemic. Also, inflation means wages aren't increasing in line with the prices workers are seeing.

Frank Lentz reports about 90,000 jobs are available in the Kansas City region. Still, he agrees it is an unusual job picture. "You've got employers begging for workers and workers begging for jobs . . . and part of it is the jobs people want are not the jobs that are available."

Now that unemployment insurance is running out, Lentz says we'll have to see whether employers can find workers and if they will be willing to offer more in the way of wages and benefits.

When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Chris Young is an Assistant Producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact him at chrisy@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.