Job center gears up for expected uptick in job seekers

Pandemic related unemployment benefits ending in Missouri June 12.

JASPER COUNTY, Mo. – “I’ve been doing workforce for ten, twelve years, and I have not ever seen it like this,” says Pam Regan, One Stop Operator at the Missouri Job Center in Joplin.

There’s more than three thousand job postings in the Joplin Metro area, according to the Missouri Office of Workforce Development.

More than 200 thousand in the state as a whole.

“To help address this labor shortage, I have directed the Missouri Department of Labor to end participation in all federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits,” Missouri Governor Mike Parson said during a press conference on Tuesday.

“Prior to the pandemic, it wasn’t easy getting employees. Once the pandemic hit and all of the different types of unemployment benefits and different pandemic benefits came in, that made it even more difficult to get those people back,” explains Carthage Chamber of Commerce President Mark Elliff. “Part of it was safety, but that has been corrected with vaccines and Covid dropping in Missouri overall. So, you have to look at the areas that might be causing some obstacles.’

The Job Center in Joplin is expecting a surge in job seekers looking to re-enter the workforce. To prepare, the office will be back to normal operations for the first time in 14 months starting May 17th. But, they will be short staffed, and encourage job seekers to continue setting up appointments.

“A little nervous. You know, like I said, we are short staffed and some of the staff members are just coming back into the center on Monday. And so getting acclimated and then having the influx of customers… I just want us to be able to serve those individuals as well as we can,” says Regan.

And at the Carthage Chamber of Commerce their doing something for the first time.

“We are looking at a business expo and job fair in June,” says Elliff.

It’s the first time the chamber has held a job fair in conjunction with the expo, but Elliff says the number of open positions demanded it. There’s more than 200 in the Carthage area, where 7 of Jasper County’s 20 largest employers are.

“The Job markets gonna come back strong. State unemployment right now is 4.2 percent. It’s down to where it was prior. And I think we’ll continue to be that way,” says Elliff. “So I think the outlook is good.”

The main thing Regan says job seekers should do is start the process as soon as they can.

“Get ahead of the process because once that unemployment does end the market will be flooded with job seekers,” says Regan.

The job center has two free certification programs coming up. Warehouse training starts on May 24th, and includes OSHA and forklift certifications. You can learn more here: https://sectorready.org/warehouse/

The center also has Class A CDL training classes coming up. You can learn more about the training here: https://sectorready.org/highway/