As the private sector struggles to fill positions, the countrywide labor shortage issue hasn’t spared public employers, with some Stateline Area municipalities facing challenges finding staff.
In Beloit, City Manager Lori Curtis Luther said the city was “not immune” to staffing challenges faced by private employers.
“We have managed to fill most positions, although the number of applications for each position has been lower than in the past,” Luther said.
Seasonal staffing positions also have been harder for the city to fill, Luther added.
“Seasonal staffing was extraordinarily difficult this year and we are uncertain what the labor market will look like in 2022,” Luther said.
The city, which uses online job platform GovernmentJobs.com to list openings, currently lists 13 available positions that need to be filled in the city. Positions range from public works openings to positions within city departments like community development and transit.
County governments also have dealt with staffing shortages.
In Rock County, Administrator Josh Smith said the county had struggled “historically and recently” to fill various positions, most commonly having issues with finding certified nursing assistants (CNA) for Rock Haven nursing home; 911 emergency dispatch telecommunicators and corrections officers for the Rock County jail.
“We observe that the current economic climate has increased competition for staff, and wage competition is a real issue everywhere. Job postings are located on our website, but they also get spread all over the internet to job sites,” Smith said.
Smith said the county also has started advertising available jobs through billboards and radio spots, something that’s never been done before.
“We’ve been trying to be creative in addressing this,” Smith added.
Smith said that creativity has led to a referral bonus program for current employees. The Rock County Board of Supervisors also approved a $15 an hour minimum wage for county employees.
Another step taken by the county has been increasing internships, Smith said.
“For many years now we’ve been trying to make the county a more inclusive workplace in order to attract a broader pool of applicants, as well as retain the staff we have,” Smith said. “I expect addressing workforce challenges in a more planned and comprehensive way will be a priority for the county in 2022.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on Tuesday highlighting the fluctuations of job openings and labor turnover for August, the month which data was most recently available. As of Aug. 31, the number and rate of job openings decreased to 10.4 million, a decrease of 659,000 job openings, but job openings in federal government positions increased by 22,000.
The largest decreases in job openings were in health care and social assistance fields (224,000 positions filled) along with 178,000 jobs filled in food services and 124,000 positions filled across state and local governments, August labor data shows, a potential sign that people could be seeking more government jobs in the months ahead.
But some municipalities in the Stateline Area have been able to fill all or nearly all positions, with pending offers currently out to prospective employees.
Town of Beloit Finance Director Tim Wellnitz said the town wasn’t facing a worker shortage, noting that a conditional offer for the position of police officer was outstanding as the town’s only open position.
In Rockton, Village Development Administrator Tricia Diduch confirmed the village was not experiencing a worker shortage, but stressed the issue was plaguing the private sector.
“I do know many of our downtown businesses are experiencing staffing issues though. Particularly our restaurants,” Diduch said.