Local News: Cape Chamber’s Gilligan, Jackson Chamber’s Gerau address struggle to find workers (9/27/22)

Rob Gilligan

Leaders of two Cape Girardeau County chambers of commerce say it remains difficult to find people to fill available jobs, but say things could improve.

Brian Gerau

Rob Gilligan, president and CEO of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, told the Southeast Missourian that he had many conversations with managers, human resources directors and business owners from the region.

“A few said it’s gotten a bit better in terms of catching up on the backlog of unfilled jobs,” said Gilligan, who has led the chamber since April.

“I think things are looking up from 12 to 18 months ago,” said Brian Gerau, executive director of the Jackson-area Chamber of Commerce for nearly 14 years.

Both men say real challenges remain for employers.

“There are still gaps in specific industries; for just one example, we’re seeing shortages of 18-wheeler big truck drivers,” Gerau said.

He further commented on his appreciation for recent efforts by the Jackson School District.

“Jackson Schools did a good job of rotating some of their bus routes to ensure the district had enough bus drivers, and overall I know our businesses try to be as flexible and accommodating as possible to potential employees,” he added.


“There is a significant decrease in the total number of job seekers, coupled with the difficulty in finding people with the type of work history that companies need,” Gilligan said.

“We see the greatest need in our entry-level jobs (and) the attitude of HR managers seems to be ‘no stone left unturned’ when it comes to filling available jobs.”

“We absolutely want job growth, but right now in this climate the short-term goal is not to create jobs but to fill jobs, to fill vacancies,” Gerau added. . “I don’t think anyone has a magic pill to solve this problem.”


Cape Girardeau County saw an uptick in unemployment, according to July figures — the latest available — from the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Unemployment hit 2.7% in July, down from 2.2% in June, but significantly lower than the 3.4% seen in January.

* Scott County: 3.1% in July; 2.4% in June

* Perry County: 2.2% in July; 1.9% in June

At the state level, the August unemployment rate was recorded at 2.5%, unchanged from July, and represents the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment figure since 1976. As recently as In July 2021, Show Me State unemployment hit 4.3%.

According to a Missouri Department of Labor analyst, “the decline is due to a decline in the civilian labor force, with both employed and unemployed declining.”

Quiet stop

According to a survey by Axios and Generation Lab, 82% of Gen Zers indicated that doing the bare minimum to keep their jobs is “fairly or extremely attractive”, a phenomenon that social scientists call “the shutdown quiet”.

The pandemic, the online magazine Entrepreneur said on Thursday, “has altered people’s relationships with work, especially among young people.”

Generation Z, according to the financial site Investopedia, refers to people born between 1997 and 2012.

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