AMES, Iowa -- With the unemployment rate at a historic low, it has some businesses worried about filling current positions.
Every year the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) needs to fill over 630 part-time seasonal employees to keep Iowa roadways a safe place of travel from snow and ice. But with a low 2.4 percent of Iowans without a job the DOT was concerned.
“We use these employees to supplement our permanent crews. So then in extended storms or really severe storms they really help out when we have long shifts or when we have to be out on the roads for two or three days continuously,” John Hart, Iowa DOT’s assistant state maintenance engineer, said.
The DOT has over 24,000 lane miles of roadway to maintain. With over 902 plows across the state and 223 thousand tons of salt, they are prepared for winter and now just need the drivers.
“This is our typical business that we usually do, so really not a fear of not having workers, but more of a fear of not getting these [extra positions] filled,” Hart said.
Luckily for the DOT, their industry deals with a handful of repeat workers that came back this year.
“A lot of our employees that come back year after year are in the construction, trucking, or agricultural fields,” Hart said. “This is a good fit for them because this is their down time to use that CDL [license] or their skills in operating equipment to supplement and work in the winter a little bit.”
So far the DOT is up to 500 people currently in the hiring process and are going to extra lengths to make sure they can fill each plow come the first major snowfall.
“Typically we do a social media campaign, we do just general postings just with fliers in the community, our shop supervisors do a really good job of reaching out to people that we know and trying to make people aware of the opportunities,” Hart said.