BOZEMAN — As the United States continues navigating the pandemic, unemployment has remained high in most places.
But ironically, Bozeman seems to be seeing the opposite effect.
“I haven’t had an application in six months or longer. You can’t even get anybody to come in the door and fill out an application,” said Johnny Ruff, the manager at Whalen Tire.
The city is filled with hiring signs looking to pull in employees.
“We’re constantly looking for employees. It’s a tough market out here,” Ruff says.
And he’s right. Even the city currently has several openings.
“Just with all of the growth that we have a need for street operators, water sewer operators, folks to work in our parks department, building inspectors, so there’s a lot of really cool opportunities that we have open right now," said Jamie Norby, the interim human resources director for the city.
Some positions aren’t asking for specific skills. But some do.
“I’m always looking for qualified employees, and right now, the demand for work is high and the demand for employees is high and we just can’t find the qualified people to fit the bill at this point,” said Shaun Marshall-Pryde, owner of Dark Horse Contractors.
In fact, the job market in Bozeman is in such need, employers are willing to pay almost double Montana’s minimum wage just to get employees.
“When the fast-food restaurants are starting out 13, 15 (dollars) an hour, you know, to get somebody to flip hamburgers versus busting down tires, you got to pay them a bit more to get them to work,” said Ruff.
Much of the rest of the country is dealing with the opposite, not having enough jobs for people. So this resident believes Bozeman is fortunate to have this problem.
"We’re very fortunate to live here in a growing, thriving economy, and anybody who wants to work really can work,” Marshall-Pryde said.
The urgent need doesn’t just stop at tire shops. Almost every field is looking to hire, from fast food places to the city.
The Montana Department of Labor and Industry sent MTN News information on the unemployment rate and job posting numbers for Gallatin County here.