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The City of Columbia’s ongoing staff shortage is affecting residents, with municipal services being pulled back because of a lack of workers.
The city said Wednesday that it temporarily stopped curbside recycling collections. The city Solid Waste Utility also canceled a household hazardous waste collection event scheduled for June 3, citing a need to use all available staff to pick up residential trash after Memorial Day.
About 25% of the City’s residential curbside positions are vacant. The city has relied on temporary staffing agencies to make up for these vacancies.
A spokes person for Solid Waste Utility told ABC 17 News that in 2021 St. Louis Halted pickup for 18 months. He fears the same thing could happen in Columbia if the city does not hire more staff soon .
GO COMO is also facing a staffing shortage of 11-full time drivers, which caused the bus service to combine routes in April. Drivers are working 12 hours of mandatory overtime per week, according to meeting documents.
The City of Columbia is held it’s second Connecting the Community Job Fair Thursday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Columbia Mall in hopes of adding some new employees. Currently the city is hiring 49 full-time positions. On the fliers they handed out at the fair, seven positions were highlighted in red under a caption that read: “ASK US ABOUT THESE OPPORTUNITIES.” Three of those opportunities included bus driver, refuse and senior refuse collectors and refuse collector trainee.
While the Columbia is looking to fill a variety of positions, that is not why they put on the job fair. Kathy Baker, an Human Resources representative for the city helped set up the event. She says that they have been planning the fair for roughly three months.
“This event is all about helping employees in the community,” Baker said.
Baker added that a survey from community employees that attended the first job fair in September, 2022 found that multiple job offers were handed out on the spot.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that Missouri has increased its government labor force by more than 2,000 people in the last six months. It has also increased 0.9% in the last 12 months according to the Bureau of Labor statistics.
Jefferson City’s government labor force has increased by 2.4% in the last 12 months. Joplin has also seen an increase of 1.1%.
However, Columbia’s government labor force has decreased within the last five months, losing roughly 300 workers compared to October 2022. It has also only seen a 0.7% increase within the last 12 months, which is below the state average.
Dr. Brian Yearwood, the superintendent of Columbia Public Schools says he’s also facing a staffing shortage.
He says he was impressed by the number of people who came out looking for a job. However he thinks the city and schools are struggling to fill positions because of Columbia’s low unemployment rate
“I think because of the low unemployment we have a lot of retirees, individuals that have left the workforce and as a result of that the bodies just weren’t there to replenish those jobs,” Yearwood said.
The unemployment rate in Columbia is just above 2 percent. This is below the national average of 3.4 percent.
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