City Manager Craig Owens says the city of Lawrence is feeling the effects of the country’s tight labor market and has more than double its usual number of job openings.
Owens said the city currently has around 800 full-time employees and more than 60 openings, which he says is more than double the number of openings the city usually has. He said many openings were for key essential services, such as police, utilities, solid waste, streets, administration, and parks and recreation.
“All of these departments are affected,” Owens said. “We just don’t have a full complement. “
Owens said in some cases the city was not tracking attrition, saying that at one point this month he had witnessed four retirements in four days. As Journal-World recently reported, Owens cited the need to maintain critical staffing levels as one reason for the city’s new policy that requires unvaccinated employees to undergo regular coronavirus testing. When the new policy was announced last week, around 80% of the city’s employees were vaccinated. The new policy also includes additional time off for vaccinated employees, allowing them not to tap into their regular sick or vacation time if they become ill with COVID-19 or need to self-quarantine, or if a member of the team. family becomes ill or has to quarantine.
The City of Lawrence Commission has approved funding for additional positions in the city as part of its amended 2021 budget and 2022 budget, bringing the city’s total authorized positions to 888 for the coming year. Budget 2022 also includes $ 5 million in salary increases for unionized and non-unionized employees, including a general wage increase of 2.5% for all employees.
When asking for increases, city officials cited previous market research and a competitive regional labor market. The unemployment rate in Kansas is currently 3.8%, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is lower than the national unemployment rate of 5.2%.
Some of the currents vacancies on the city site include a planner, electrician, solid waste loader, engineer, mechanic, policeman, utility operator and human resources manager, among others.
Owens noted that the city has a variety of job types open, and he encouraged the community to check out job postings on the city’s website, lawrenceks.org/jobs.
“We want great people, especially people who are already here in our community, to join our team and help us with this work,” said Owens.