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Low unemployment a challenge for area employers

August 26, 2018

KINGMAN — As the unemployment rate continues to drop, professional and skilled positions within Mohave County are becoming more difficult to staff, according to officials.

Mohave County’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent in July and Bullhead City’s unemployment rate was at 5.4 percent.

In its most recent posting of statistics, the Arizona Department of Administration said that in Mohave County there are 4,821 people, 930 who live in Bullhead City, considered unemployed — eligible for the workforce but not holding a job.

Mohave County has roughly 40 job openings with multiple listings for some positions, such as detention officer, said Human Resource Director Ken Cunningham.

The most difficult positions to fill are engineers, attorneys, environmental health, nurses and librarians, he said.

According to Cunningham, turnover averages 20 percent from employees retiring, recruits who don’t want to live in a rural area or who see Mohave County as a training ground before moving to a larger county or city.

The county conducts drug screens for people applying for safety-

sensitive positions such as nurses, those who work with power tools repairing or maintaining machinery or operating a vehicle, and building and code enforcement among others.

The county does additional testing for employees under reasonable suspicion, Cunningham added.

Bullhead City has two full-time openings for a police officer and an assistant city engineer. There also are about a half-dozen part-time positions open in other departments at 29 hours per week, Bullhead City Human Resource Manager Brenda Richardson said.

The city has a 10 percent turnover rate‚ with engineering and police officer positions being the hardest to fill — but it uses a recruiting company to expand the pool of candidates.

All city employees must complete a drug screen, fingerprinting and criminal background checks, Richardson said. Police officer positions also require a polygraph and psychological exam.

Western Arizona Regional Medical Center and Valley View Medical Center show 85 open positions, ranging from shipping and receiving clerks to Intensive Care Unit registered nurses, according to job postings.

“As the hospital continues to grow and offer new services, the number of positions grows accordingly,” said Jena Morga, WARMC marketing director. “Across the country there is a shortage of nurses but we are working with local colleges to fulfill our needs.”

According to job postings on individual resort websites, the Laughlin casinos have more than 275 open positions.

The Aquarius Casino Resort is looking to staff 61 open positions, according to Kathy Hilderhof, vice president of marketing.

The hardest positions to fill are housekeeping and cooks, she said.

As of July, there were 44,200 workers in the private sector in Mohave County, including 8,700 in educational and health services and 12,900 in the trade, transportation and utilities field. There were 3,200 workers in mining and construction, 3,200 in manufacturing and 8,700 in the leisure and hospitality field.

There were 7,100 government workers in Mohave County, of which 6,700 worked at the state or local level. Arizona saw 13,100 government jobs lost in July.

About 169,400 Arizonans were unemployed in July out of a civilian labor force of about 3.37 million people, according to the Arizona Department of Administration.

The United States’ unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent in July from 4 percent in June. In July 2017, the nation’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent. The number of unemployed Americans was more than 6.3 million.

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