More employers are hiring, but taking a conservative approach

Monday, April 16, 2012
The Menards home improvement center at the southwest corner of Siemers Drive and Bloomfield Road in Cape Girardeau is aiming for a late spring or early summer opening. The store will add more than 150 jobs to Cape Girardeau’s workforce. (ADAM VOGLER)

Missouri's jobless rate in February dropped to 7.4 percent -- its lowest mark since late 2008. And while that's good news, companies still seem to be moving cautiously when adding new staff.

"We're seeing employers beginning to feel more comfortable to hire one or two people and see how that works out," says June O'Dell, president/chief operating officer of the Southeast Missouri Workforce Investment Board. "I think employers are being very cautious."

She says more businesses have been making use of on-the-job training dollars available through the investment board and career center. "We're seeing that pick up," she says, adding that 18 months ago businesses were afraid they wouldn't be able to sustain jobs.

She sees companies using caution in the hiring process as a good thing. "I think it will nurture steady growth. An influx (of employees) doesn't really help anybody."

Debbie Glenn, regional branch manager of Manpower, says she thinks companies are being more conservative. "They're trying to get more done with less people," she says. "We're seeing some of that."

According to Manpower's quarterly outlook employment survey, the employment outlook is strong in Missouri. With 18 percent of interviewd companies planning to hire more employees as opposed to 4 percent expecting to cut staff, the state is forecast to have a 12 percent increase.

"We anticipate growth in the health care market," Glenn says.

Jobs will also come with Menard's and Isle of Capri opening locations in Cape Girardeau. They're two businesses O'Dell sees as a prime opportunity for job seekers to get a foot in the door. "There will be a lot of opportunities for advancement," she says.

Companies are also turning more to workforce solution companies like Manpower.

"We've had two, three great years," Glenn says. "I think people reach out more to hiring firms because it's a way to help with their staffing needs."

Manpower, which offers temporary, temporary to permanent, and permanent placement services, doesn't see a lot of entry-level jobs, according to Glenn. "Manpower in Southeast Missouri is growing with its permanent placement program," Glenn wrote in an email. "This is more your supervisor, high-skilled worker, management, health care, IT. For us, it's more of a specific skill trade," she says.

O'Dell says hiring services are a good resource, depending on what you're looking for. "High-end professionals use that service," she says. "They're willing to relocate. A lot of the (workforce) companies have a lot of employers they're hiring for."

She says the Workforce Investment Board works with temp agencies. "We're all trying to achieve the same goal," she says.

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