Missoula’s unemployment rate is so low that, for the first time, the Missoula Job Service is partnering with Southgate Mall to hold an “emergency” job fair to help retailers find enough employees to keep up with the busy holiday season.
“This is the first time we’ve done anything like that, because there is such a labor shortage, especially in retail,” explained Wolf Ametsbichler, the manager of the Job Service.
The Holiday Job Fair will be held on Friday, Oct. 13, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Southgate Mall, and there should be as many as 25 different employers on hand to conduct interviews and perhaps make job offers.
The unemployment rate in Missoula County had dropped to 3.1 percent as of August, down from the 4.0 rate it was at in March.
“It’s very low,” Ametsbichler said.
As a result, it’s a job seeker’s market, as employers struggle to attract and retain employees long-term. Ametsbichler said he’s heard from many local business owners and hiring directors that it’s been tough lately to find enough workers.
Chery Sabol, the Job Service’s workforce consultant, said some retail managers have told her they like the idea of a job fair but can’t spare the staff for three hours to send someone to recruit at the event. Some retailers have decided to sweeten their offers to lure employees. Target, for example, has announced it will increase its minimum wage to $11 in October and will ramp that up to $15 per hour by the end 2020.
Ametsbichler said he has been working with the Southgate Mall administration on holding the job fair, and they asked that the event be open to anybody who has a seasonal hiring need, not just mall tenants.
“It’s a nice facility, and they’ve done these events before,” Ametsbichler said. “It’s also homecoming weekend, so we expect a huge crowd of shoppers and hopefully job seekers.”
Sabol said the deadline for employers to sign up will be at noon on Monday, Oct. 9. She said the event requires very little in terms of set up and take down. The mall will provide a conference table and seating for two representatives.
“We’ll have staff there to guide people in case they get overwhelmed,” Ametsbichler said.
He said people who are interested in finding work should bring a resume and be prepared for interviews. The Job Service is reaching out to local high schools to let them know it’s a great time to look for seasonal work, but Ametsbichler said many retailers have told him there are career opportunities for those looking for full-time, permanent positions as well.
“If you want a career in retail, this could be a good starting point,” he said.
For more information visit employmissoula.com or contact Sabol at 406-542-5748.