Study identifies reasons for Missoula worker shortage

MISSOULA, Mont. - Many businesses around Missoula have signs that say they're hiring, or signs that say they're limiting their hours due to staffing shortages.

The Missoula Economic Partnership teamed up with a local consulting company to find out what's driving the worker shortage. 

The study, led by Bryce Ward with ABMJ Consulting, shows that unemployment numbers are lower now, than what they were before the pandemic.

The study notes that people aren't participating in the workforce for a few difference reasons. They found that a lot of people left their jobs or were laid off earlier in the pandemic, and have either found new jobs, aren't looking for employment or moved to a different community to try and find new jobs.

Through talking to Missoula employers, they found that it's difficult for them to hire employees because of housing costs and availability. People are struggling to afford rent in Missoula or are struggling to find housing, which is pushing many workers out of the area.

President and CEO of the Missoula Economic Partnership, Grant Kier, said it's a key issue that needs to be fixed to get the workforce back to normal. 

"If we want to tackle employment issues, we've got to focus on housing and really making sure that we're delivering the kind of housing that our workforce needs to be able to live here and build long lives," Kier said.
 
They also found that over 80% of kids under 18 years-old live in a house where both parents work, making access to reliable childcare essential in order for parents to work.
 
Kier added that he hopes this study will help everyone understand the problems, so that they can be addressed.

"I hope it helps bring focus at the community level about the ways that we can go about working on enhancing our ability to attract new workforce, to give people confidence that they can come here and start a professional life and grow with our community," he said.

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