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December 15, 2021

2021 Employer Survey details employer perspectives on pandemic and skill needs

Employers face a shortage of skilled applicants, but optimism abounds


The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) released the results of the third annual  statewide employer survey, conducted to better understand employer needs.  

More than 800 Missouri employers answered survey questions to help give insight into several notable data points, including job growth, hiring trends, barriers to expanding employment, skill shortages, job applicant shortcomings, and a comparison of metro and non-metro employer responses.

This year the Employer Survey compared questions from 2019 and 2020, including a look at how COVID-19 continues to impact Missouri’s workforce. Responses were gathered from Missouri companies with five or more employees – 541 employers located in metro areas and 293 from non-metro areas of the state.

The data shows that although more than a year has passed since the start of COVID-19 related shutdowns, employers are still feeling effects of the pandemic. Sixty-four percent of employers who had a significant increase or decrease in employment over the last 12 months state it was due to the pandemic. However, employers are optimistic about the future. During the next year, 55 percent of employers expect to increase employment levels, the highest response since the start of this survey in 2019. This optimism was higher in metro areas compared to non-metro areas (61% metro vs. 43% non-metro).

More employers reported barriers to expanding employment than in previous years, with a shortage of workers with knowledge or skills, economic conditions, and general COVID-19 issues topping the list. Shortages of skilled applicants were particularly reported in the areas of skilled trades and patient care.

“To meet these shortages, employers are hiring from outside of the local area and offering increased wages,” said Veronica Gielazauskas, assistant commissioner for performance & strategy. “Employers were also much more likely to consider workforce initiatives such as increased employee care and engagement and cross-training and knowledge transfer than last year.”

Other data points in the survey include hiring practices regarding justice-involved individuals, the skill levels need to meet employee shortages, employer concerns for the future, and many others which give insight to how employers fared this year.

The Missouri Workforce 2021 Employer Survey can be found online at https://meric.mo.gov/workforce-research/employer-survey.