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City of Springfield Workforce Development interim Director Sally Payne reviews hiring difficulties respondents listed in the sixth-annual Momentum State of the Workforce survey.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
City of Springfield Workforce Development interim Director Sally Payne reviews hiring difficulties respondents listed in the sixth-annual Momentum State of the Workforce survey.

Survey: Hiring remains high priority for employers

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Hiring plans and difficulty in filling positions were top of mind for respondents to the 2020 Momentum State of the Workforce survey.

Results from the sixth-annual survey were unveiled at a Feb. 19 luncheon before nearly 350 attendees at White River Conference Center. Sally Payne, interim director of the city’s Department of Workforce Development, said 49% of respondents plan to hire at least one full-time employee over the next 12 months – the highest percentage recorded on the question since the survey began in 2015. It’s also an increase from 40% in last year’s response.

That percentage jump caught the attention of Mardy Leathers, director of the Missouri Office of Workforce Development. Leathers was among several state officials in attendance from Jefferson City.

“The 9% year-over-year growth that employers are likely to hire – not even somewhat likely – but for sure are going to increase their payroll this year, that stands out,” he said. “That gives me a positive outlook to take back [to Jefferson City] when I think about state growth.”

Still, finding quality candidates to fill those full-time jobs remains a challenge, according to survey respondents. Even as Missouri’s unemployment rate continues to hover above 3%, according to the state Department of Economic Development, 71% who responded reported difficulty in filling positions over the past year. That’s up from 67% in 2019.

Springfield’s annual confidential survey provides data for the Missouri Job Center to assess needs of employers, while identifying issues and challenges in the workforce. The results were compiled based on responses from businesses, nonprofits, government, health care and educational institutions within the seven-county Ozark region. It covers Greene, Christian, Dallas, Polk, Stone, Taney and Webster counties.

A total of 405 surveys were completed this year, representing a nearly 20% drop from 2019 and the second-lowest number of respondents since inception. Job Center spokeswoman Katherine Trombetta said officials are uncertain why responses were down, but noted survey administrator Opinion Research Specialists LLC still considered the total a good sampling.

Read more about the MOmentum State of the Workforce survey results in Springfield Business Journal’s Feb. 24 print edition.

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