The Missouri Department of Transportation continues to face staffing issues.
MoDOT maintenance crews were down by 900 employees in Oct. 2022. Now, the department is still down several hundred employees, said Jason Shafer, Central District maintenance engineer.
The department has had low staff numbers statewide the last several years, Shafer said. Several industries around the nation are having similar difficulties finding employees, he added.
Resulting competition hasn't helped MoDOT.
"There is just competition period," Shafer said. "I mean the private sector's needing help, public sector's needing help so there's just a lot of competition out there."
The Central District, including Callaway County, is reflective of those lower numbers, Shafer said.
"We've been hiring as we've been losing people so you know it's pretty fluid all the time as far as where we're at," Shafer said. "We know that overall we just don't have the staff that we need to be able to address all the needs that we have."
There were a number of retirements at the end of June, Shafer said. While there is always quite a bit of movement in an organization of MoDOT's size, this is more than it has historically had, he said.
Gov. Mike Parson signed an 8.7 percent pay increase to adjust for the cost-of-living increase for state employees including MoDOT employees. Shafer said he thinks on an anecdotal level the pay increase has helped, both with slowing down the rate of departures and getting more candidates for the jobs MoDOT advertises.
MoDOT has a need not only for seasonal winter emergency workers, Shafer said, but for full time employees throughout the year.
Lower staff numbers have meant MoDOT has to prioritize tasks, as fewer staff means less can get done, Shafer said. Projects are now competing for time and services.
"It's causing us to have to evaluate things different than we have before because what would normally be routine tasks are suddenly competitive for what you're able to get done in the course of the day's time," Shafer said.
MoDOT is using social media now more in an effort to recruit, along with brainstorming different ideas to reach out to people. Shafer said MoDOT is also having hiring events in areas of the greatest need for staff.
MoDOT has been continuously advertising. Shafer said it's a rewarding career with a lot of variety. Those interested can apply at modot.org/careers.