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Area businesses hiring, struggling to find workers

Published: May. 7, 2021 at 9:42 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Some Wichita businesses are actively looking for new hires, but are struggling to find people to apply. Eyewitness News spoke with several area businesses who say they think that unemployment benefits are adding to the problem with not being able to find applicants.

At Dondlinger & Sons Construction, Vice President Raymond Dondlnger said the company has construction jobs to do, but it cant’ do some of them because it doesn’t have enough workers.

“You’ll see a lot of our customers and clients that we work with through the past years , you know, they’re wanting to build new things and construct new things for their businesses. And we have opportunities, but we don’t have the people to help us build those opportunities,” he said.

It’s a situation that one Wichita business calls “the second wave of the pandemic,” not being able to find workers in an economy that’s on the rise again.

“Last month was the highest number of job postings on record that I’ve ever witnessed since I’ve been with the organization for 14 years,” said Samanda Duncan with the Wichita Workforce Center. “And so we are seeing a lot of employers having that pent up demand, they’re reopening. They’re able to bring their business back after the Covid restrictions have been lifted.”

Many of the “now hiring” signs are for businesses in the hospitality industry. But, as with Dondlinger, other businesses are also struggling to find workers. Many businesses continue to post job listings online and some are even doing new incentives to try to get people on board.

“We’re seeing a number of companies offering sign-on bonuses and we’re talking substantial sign-on bonuses in the thousands of dollars,” Duncan said.

Dondlinger said the construction company is taking part in a May 17 job fair at INTRUST Bank Arena.

“And so we’re trying new ideas, new avenues to try and attract new attention to our industry,” he said.

Currently, there are thousands of jobs available in Sedgwick County and Dondlinger advises not to miss out on crucial work experience.

‘People that are staying at home, they’re getting a great benefit, and I think the benefit’s good, but they need to realize too, they’re not gaining that experience, that knowledge, that capability to help propel them into the workforce,’ he said. “And personally, I don’t want any of those people to fall behind.”

States like South Carolina and Montana will be ending their federal unemployment aid to try and ramp up the labor market. Eyewitness News reached out to Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s office to ask if Kansas may do this. As of Friday night, we haven’t heard back.

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