Unemployment: Jobs plentiful, workers few

Help Wanted. Now Hiring. Part-time and full-time positions available. Inquire within.

September 28, 2012

By Lisa Kilsdonk

Help Wanted. Now Hiring. Part-time and full-time positions available. Inquire within.

In Baker, signs advertising available job positions posted on the door of a business are nearly as common as Visa/MasterCard stickers.

Reynolds Market recently had to temporarily close its deli due to a lack of employees. Other businesses, restaurants in particular, have resorted to shortened business hours, leaving many Baker residents short on dining choices.

According to a database consulted on www.economagic.com, Fallon County’s unemployment rate for July 2012 (most recent available) was just 1.9 percent. The statistics compiled by the United States Department of Labor show the national unemployment rate for July 2012 to be 8.3 percent.

In a state-by-state breakdown from the Department of Labor, North Dakota leads the nation with the lowest unemployment rate (3 percent). Rather surprisingly, Montana ranks 14th (6.3 percent). Neighboring states of South Dakota (4.5 percent) and Wyoming (5.7 percent) rank third and seventh, respectively.

Miles City Job Service manager Kim Blunt, whose office covers seven counties and over 20 towns in eastern Montana, stated, “Of the 161 total job listings we have, 21 of them are for Baker alone.”

Blunt confirmed in a phone interview Sept. 24, 2012 that employers in Baker are having a difficult time filling positions. “There’s a workforce issue and a housing issue. The housing issue there (in Baker) is such a problem. Even if there is housing, it’s not affordable.” Blunt went on to explain that while top wage earners could afford the higher rents and mortgages, the employees serving in what the industry calls support level positions, earning minimum wage all the way up to about $18 an hour, frequently find themselves unable to make ends meet when faced with high housing costs combined with utilities, food, fuel, and medical expenses.

The coffee shop chat that the only people in Baker who don’t have jobs are the ones who don’t want them, just might be spot on this time.