Archive for Sunday, September 30, 2012

Business owners: Kansas lacks qualified workers

State economy ‘relatively flat,’ official says

September 30, 2012


MANHATTHAN — The state of the Kansas economy is mixed, with some sectors improving while others aren’t, business leaders and state officials are saying.

“The economy is still relatively flat,” said Stan Ahlerich, executive director of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.

At the council’s meeting last week, Gov. Sam Brownback focused on some positives, saying the state “had good job creation last year” and “a nice run” of increasing economic indicators.

But the Kansas Index of Leading Indicators has been leveling since May and decreased slightly last month.

“We hope this is a temporary pause going forward and the upward trend continues,” said Inayat Noormohmad, an analyst with the Kansas Department of Labor.

And officials said the 16,800 private-sector jobs added between August 2011 and this August — a 1.5 percent gain — don’t cover the loss of 70,000 jobs during the recession.

“We still have a long climb back out,” Noormohmad said.

Not enough qualified workers

One of the most startling statistics about the Kansas economy is that building permits have decreased 24.8 percent between 2011 and 2012 while they have increased in the six-state region by 21 percent and nationally by 40.6 percent.

Ivan Crossland, chief executive officer of Crossland Construction, and a member of Brownback’s Council of Economic Advisors, said he thought the industry was in a wait-and-see mode until after the Nov. 6 general election.

He said there is a serious problem in finding qualified workers, such as mechanics and carpenters.

Representative of other sectors also complained about the lack of qualified workers, saying too many people can’t pass drug tests and background checks. Patti Bossert, also a member of the Economic Council and president of Key Staffing in Topeka, said she serves on a board within the Kansas Department of Labor that reviews appeals in unemployment compensation disputes.

Most of the people who are filing appeals “are not employable,” she said. She said they have been terminated for misconduct, including stealing and failing drug tests. Later, in an interview, she said her comments were meant to be general in nature.

Job vacancies rising

A recent survey by the Kansas Department of Labor said the state had 36,000 job vacancies in August, which represented a 17.3 percent increase since 2011. Of those vacancies, 71.4 percent required no education or just a high school diploma.

Several others on the council said they felt the economy was improving slowly or at least stabilizing.

David Coleal, a senior vice president with Spirit AeroSystems, said commercial aircraft manufacturing was in good shape, while general aviation aircraft remained far behind the performance of 2008.

“The fundamentals of the industry are solid,” he said.

Mollie Hale Carter, president of Sunflower Bank in Salina, said the banking sector was stable but smaller banks are suffering with the “regulatory environment.”

And officials said they were still awaiting data on the effects of the drought.


rockchalk1977 1 year, 6 months ago

Obama has doubled down on stupid telling defense contractors not to warn employees about possible layoffs due to looming budget cuts, going so far as to offer to cover legal fees in compensation challenges. Federal law requires employers to give notice if mass layoffs are likely. For the second time, Obama has encouraged government contractors to ignore the WARN Act. Sure would be nice if we could all pick and choose which laws we obey. VOTE FOR THE MORMON... NOT THE MORON. Romney Ryan 2012!


whateverittakes1 1 year, 6 months ago

I want to remind employers that there are plenty of qualified workers among those applicants aged 50 and over. What? You don't want to hire people "that old?" That is the group that has the knowledge, experience, AND work ethic. They are not likely to show up at work with nose rings or multi-colored mohawks. If they have a tattoo, it is usually hidden. I want to let employers know that older workers are NOT "damaged goods." A lot of the time, we are in better shape than the youngsters we all know you would rather hire, so saying we will raise your health insurance premiums is not necessarily true. We aren't even necessarily asking for a higher salary just because of our experience. We just want to work and make it at least to the current federal retirement age. Otherwise, if you turn us down because of age, you are kicking a lot of good work experience to the curb. In this relatively fascist state of Kansas, we all know that you consider us older workers as throwaways. You will be where we are someday if we are blocked at all turns in trying to improve our lot. Employers, HIRE OLDER WORKERS!!!! WE ARE THE QUALIFIED WORKERS YOU ARE LOOKING FOR!!! You are NOT going to find an 18-year old with 25 years of experience!! I'm telling you.


mdlund0 1 year, 6 months ago

I take offense to the notion that there aren't enough qualified workers in Kansas. Pay a decent wage and you'll get a qualified worker. The most fundamental law of economics, supply and demand: the supply meets demand when the price is set at the right level... you demand qualified workers? PAY THE F**KING PRICE!


concernedcitizen714 1 year, 6 months ago

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Ivan Crossland saying there's a shortage of skilled workers including mechanics and carpenters. Ivan Crossland Jr. runs Crossland Construction with his brothers. Ivan Crossland Jr. currently serves as vice president of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and sits on its Board of Directors. Crossland also serves as president of the Chamber PAC. Chamber PAC supports and endorses state legislators and other candidates for state office who support the Kansas Chamber’s legislative agenda, which includes opposing state legislation increasing penalties or threatening the business licenses of employers who have intentionally hired illegal workers.

To me this is nothing less than Crossland being self serving. Anyone who works in the construction industry knows there are plenty of well qualified carpenters out-of-work. Crossland's problem is very few of them want to work for the meager wages Crossland is willing to pay. Why else does Crossland want to keep penalties low for businesses that intentionally hire undocumented workers? Do you think that Crossland wants to turn to subcontractors that hire undocumented workers to fill this so-called "shortage" of skilled workers?

In fact, they already have. Crossland subcontractor John Peoples Concrete, who worked on the 39Rainbow project across from KU Medical Center had dozens of wage claims filed against it. A number of those wage claims were filed by undocumented workers. And it is public record! You can see the wage claims yourself by going to .


getreal 1 year, 6 months ago

All I could think while reading this article is why would any business choose to locate here where we cut school funding and can't provide an educated workforce. We are behind in building permits because they are waiting on an election? Who are these people kidding? We are behind because nobody wants to build because people have serious doubts about moving here and people already here have serious doubts about remaining here. It is so sad to see the state of Kansas fall to the bottom. Even when these leaders are gone, it will take years to recover. They have ruined the quality of life in this state that brought people here in the first place.


shotgun 1 year, 6 months ago

Kansas lacks skilled workers because as a state, it is not friendly to the worker! Wages for skilled labor suck in "Right to Work" Kansas. No thank you, Kansas, I'll continue to commute to Missouri and earn an additional $10 to $14 K annually. All of you smart conservatives, go ahead and blame it on whatever, truth is you are your beloved "kool aid" drinkers and you will never be as rich as your talking head Bill O.


patkindle 1 year, 6 months ago

life is not fair if you cannot play well with others, it is a shame but not your god given right to a job perhaps your mother loves you but no one else really cares


Stuart Sweeney 1 year, 6 months ago

If this wasn't such a scab state we would have better unions, with apprenticeship programs to develop qualified workers. It is apparent the employersof Kansas and the state with its lack of funding for education are not going to step up the the plate. When people are undertrained you can pay them less and keep them beaten down in Brownbackistan!


Edward Coan 1 year, 6 months ago

"Of those vacancies, 71.4 percent required no education or just a high school diploma."

That's not going to grow the economy. If people only make enough to exist, then how is that going to improve the economy?


Edward Coan 1 year, 6 months ago

Of those vacancies, 71.4 percent required no education or just a high school diploma.

That's not going to grow the economy at all. If people only make enough to exist then no substanial growth will happen.


whateverittakes1 1 year, 6 months ago

I have filed an appeal with unemployment insurance because my employer lied about the reason I was let go. I feel very offended by Ms. Bossert's comment that most of the people who appealed are unemployable. I have an excellent education, do not, and never did do drugs or alcohol, have a clean criminal record, have an excellent work ethic, I did my job, showed up everyday for work, didn't even miss very often due to illness, never stole from my employer, and was very often, first to arrive, last to leave each workday. I was, however, subjected to a hostile work environment that did not do favors to my physical or mental health, and I kept a journal. I am using the journal as part of my testimony to show that the very abusive, inflammatory method by which I was terminated was in following with the abuse I already had to put up with while working at this workplace. I was let go in a very sneaky way that was meant to get a reaction, but that reaction came about a minute AFTER I was let go, and I was simply threw something across the desk of the HR person. That was the reason my boss used to deny me unemployment insurance, but of course, she omitted telling unemployment insurance that happened a good minute and a half after I was told I was fired by not allowing me my job back on a very deliberately misunderstood point on the HR person's part. It is my great concern that the person who is going to decide if I get unemployment insurance will be so pro-business that they won't care that the employer lied and will lie again, and that it will be obvious. The person making the decision still won't care. It's OK for employers to lie to the unemployment insurance commission. My testimony is truthful, the employer's is not. The person who makes the decision in my case will not care if I end up homeless and freeze to death, or not. Oh well, if I die, abusive employers are "always" right after all, and it is just another dead slave that was "too old" to hire anyway.


bobberboy 1 year, 6 months ago

Perhaps. But don't forget Workers that Kansas is also lacking in qualified businesses. :)


JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 6 months ago

Sounds like bossert and Brownback agree with Romney about the 47%. I'm disgusted with the GOP.


volunteer 1 year, 6 months ago

Patti Bossert of Key Staffing of Topeka sounds horrible. She would not not be selected for jury duty with that mindset and should not be among the panel deciding unemployment appeals.


atiopatioo 1 year, 6 months ago

Lack of qualified workers shouldn't last long.......

The United States now has more than 100,000 janitors with college degrees, and 16,000 graduates are working as parking lot attendants, according to Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

One graduate who accumulated some $100,000 in student debt and spent two years waiting tables said: “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s an obsolete idea that a college education is like your golden ticket. It’s an idea that an older generation holds on to.”

Businessweek offers some sobering facts about student debt:

In 2010, student debt exceeded credit card debt for the first time. It surpassed auto loans in 2011.

Debt has grown $300 billion from the third quarter of 2008 while other forms of debt dropped by $1.6 trillion.

Two-thirds of graduating seniors in 2010 had student debt, and on average they owed $25,250.

Many debtors with student loans on the books default within two years, and if loans aren’t paid, the government can garnish wages or Social Security.

Most debtors in 2011 were under age 40, but 16 percent were aged 40 to 49, 11 percent were 50 to 59, and 4 percent were 60 or over. That oldest group owes $43 billion in student loans.

Peter Coy states.

Meanwhile, college tuition continues to increase, rising 16 percent or more in four states in 2011 alone, according to the College Board. Tuition has soared 1,120 percent since 1978, while the Consumer Price Index has risen less than 300 percent. Recent hikes are attributable in part to state governments — whose schools educate seven in 10 students — boosting tuition to battle financial shortfalls.

Coy points to several steps that could be taken to ease the debt problem. One huge step would be to allow bankruptcy judges to wipe out education debt, which for the most part they have been unable to do since 1976.

Another step would be to devise repayment plans that make monthly payments based on a percentage of the debtor’s income rather than a certain dollar amount, and to forgive outstanding debt after 20 or 25 years, a move the Obama administration has promoted.

But GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney charges that Obama encourages students to take on more debt.

Coy puts a human face on his article by citing a graduate who found out her payment on school loans would be $1,400 a month.

“I just went into the car and started sobbing,” she said. “It was more than my paycheck at the time.”


WristTwister 1 year, 6 months ago

"But the Kansas Index of Leading Indicators has been leveling since May and decreased slightly last month."

Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with the decline in US GDP since the beginning of the year? Further declines are expected. Could this be the beginning of an Obama recession? Of course not, he most always finds a way to blame someone or something else rather than his failed policies.


patkindle 1 year, 6 months ago

you would think these employers would love to hire some clown full of ENTITLEMENT with a history of being fired for drug use,


tomatogrower 1 year, 6 months ago

Below are the reasons you won't be able to get unemployment if you are fired. You might file an appeal, but if Ms. Bossert is giving these people unemployment just because they filed an appeal, then she isn't doing her job. Is she saying that all who file for unemployment fit in this category? Is she saying that all these people will never be employable? Does she think that all charges against these people are always true, so they have no right to appeal?

Situations where you WILL NOT be able to get unemployment if you get fired from your job? You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you did not do your job correctly, or to the standards set by your employer. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you were drunk, intoxicated, or using alcohol or drugs in the workplace. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you failed a drug test. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you were insubordinate. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you violated company policy or the terms of your employment contract. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you were late for work or did not show up for a shift. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you were sleeping on the job. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you committed a crime on the job. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you stole money, goods, or property from your company or coworkers. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because did not meet your sales or production quota. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because did not know how to perform the requirements of your job. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you falsified your time card. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you lied on your job application or resume. You will not be able to collect unemployment if you are fired from your job because you were disruptive or hostile towards coworkers.


Thomas Bryce 1 year, 6 months ago

News Flash! Headlines read - Kansas Residents: "Kansas Lacks Qualified Government Officials!"


question4u 1 year, 6 months ago

"...Kansas...building permits have decreased 24.8 percent between 2011 and 2012 while they have increased in the six-state region by 21 percent and nationally by 40.6 percent."

Construction is occurring, just not in Kansas. That's OK though, because businesses like to move to states that are drastically below the national average in building permits issued. They also like states that lack qualified workers but won't invest in vocational education. Most of all, they love to move to states that are facing projected multi-billion dollar deficits in five years because of massive tax cuts.

After all, what business owner wouldn't want to pay millions to build new facilities in a state that is facing draconian cuts in funding for education, law enforcement, highways, and health care? For the moment they won't need to pay any state income tax, and when that $2.5 billion deficit hits the state in 2018 they can just leave their newly constructed facilities and move somewhere else. It makes so much sense that there's no way that construction won't be booming any day now.


Slidell 1 year, 6 months ago

WOW, Ms. Bossert is so comfortable with passing judgment that she openly shares her slanted discriminating opinion with a reporter. How can this person fairly serve on a board that reviews unemployment disputes? How much financial hardship has Ms. Bossert created because she waved her wand of superior attitude? There should be an investigation or remove Patti Bossert from her board position. Ms. Bossert, you cannot generalize once you let your colors fly!


James Nelson 1 year, 6 months ago

This article reflects one of the best examples of the fallacy of blindly following a politician and saying absolutely anything to support him, in this case Gov. Brownback.

Ivan Crossland, CEO of Crossland Construction and member of Brownbacks Council of Economic Advisors, said that he thought the construction industry in Kansas had adopted "...... a wait-and-see mode until after the Nov. 6 election." He appears to have subscribed to Brownback's belief that everything will be better when Obama is defeated in November. That is why he refuses to allow a finger to be lifted to prepare for Kansan's health care needs even though a federal deadline is fast approaching. No doubt Mr. Crossland believes that if Obama is defeated building permits will skyrocket. This statement was made in the article right after it was stated that permits were down in Kansas from 2011 to 2012 by 24.8% even though they were up in six states in our region by 21% and 40.6% nationally. Where was this guy coming from anyway? Did I miss something here or did Mr. Crossland's statement come across as ridiculously uninformed?

There is more as another member of Brownback's swift team of economic advisors also boobooed. Patti Bossert, a council member and president of Key Staffing of Topeka who serves on a Kansas Department of Labor board that reviews appeals in unemployment compensation disputes, made the statement that most people who file these appeals "...are not employable" because they were either druggies or had stolen from their employer. Way to go there, Patti. Now there is a fair minded person if I have ever seen one. Wouldn't you want her hearing your appeal for unemployment benefits? Surely such a fair minded person adds greatly to Brownback's team of economic advisors.

Its too bad Brownback cannot see fit to surround himself with educated people who can think for themselves and offer advice based upon a true understanding of the issue or problem. He only wants yes men (and women) who will always tell him what he wants to hear. That leaves only him to make every decision affecting Kansans. If you are lower or middle class Kansans you might as well drop your drawers and bend over because everything is your fault and Brownie is here to make you pay.


tange 1 year, 6 months ago

I think we've now moved beyond wait-and-see to wait-and-languish.

/ wait-and-decline, in the wings...


Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

The fewer republicans the more our properties will become worth and the more likely USA jobs will be reinvigorated.


Repubs fear a dramatically improved quality of life for all WOULD keep them out of control for decades….. we would hope.

Keep in mind a prospering america can overcome repub fear mongering... it must.

What is the repub party afraid? Why do they ALWAYS say no?

What do Repubs fear?

--- Fear a dramatically improved quality of life for all americans

--- Fear Jobs Jobs Jobs for americans

--- Fear New USA industry thus new wealth for america

--- Fear new cleaner energy sources because it would create so many new jobs and reduce rates across the board

--- Fear Medicare Single Payer Insurance for = huge tax dollar savings to government,public schools,small business and all of us in general. Single Payer Medicare is the answer.

--- Fear Clean Collar Industries which produce jobs that cannot be outsourced

--- Fear educated Americans because WE ask questions

--- Fear losing of tax incentives/tax breaks for the wealthy that actually create tax increases for entire spectrum of the middleclass


JackMcKee 1 year, 6 months ago

Why would a bright young person want to live in a state that embraces backward thinking and a far right wing ideology?


LogicMan 1 year, 6 months ago

Just wondering, for the long-term good of the county and KU.

Would it make sense for KU to start trade-preparation programs in skills needed by local and regional employers? Then offer minors in such to liberal arts students?


In_God_we_trust 1 year, 6 months ago

Business owners and HR departments have created this unqualified employee situation by their new higher qualifications. If Business owners would hire people that CAN do the work (having the basic background), but lack training, and the business would provide the training that they need for that particular business position; the unemployment problem would go away. Employers and HR people think that by raising the bar, they all of a sudden get better people. But that is not true. They just exclude the people that can do the job, by throwing them away and causing them to be on unemployment longer than is needed. Employers need to provide training to help the country instead of stealing other employers talent at a higher cost. The "perfect fit" syndrome is the problem, not the answer.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

In the end big debt and super duper bailouts HAVE BEEN the results which does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power. Neither do their Reckless Economic Entitlements.

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

This ENTITLEMENT - Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

This ENTITLEMENT - Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

This ENTITLEMENT - Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents.

This ENTITLEMENT - Starting in 2003, George W. Bush destroyed the world economy by encouraging U.S. banks to make loans to those who could not afford them, through schemes such as the "American Dream Down payment Initiative".

Also through the destruction of oversight, such as lawsuits to prevent state securities laws from being enforced on Bush's watch.

Once Bush's policies led to their inevitable result of economic collapse, the United States found itself in a situation where it had to take on debt in order to restore the economy.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

This Brownback position is the way the GOP justifies it's reckless management of our economy. Never want to shoulder the blame for screwing up. This is an ALEC position. / .

Hey Sam Brownback the jobs are not here due to reckless republican decisions of which you took part. There are plenty of UNEMPLOYED yet qualified workers in Kansas. You are lying again.... "thou shall not tell a lie" .

Remember when Ronnie Reagan was strutting around asking "Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?"

These are not republicans they are frauds. How did Reagan/Bush and this new reckless bunch of ????? respond?

Mergers and Hostile Takeovers and Leveraged Buyouts all of which began the exodus of USA corporations and millions upon millions upon millions of USA jobs to the Chinese Communist government.

The reckless conservaties followed up with the Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan home loan scandal which killed the economy and cost the USA millions of jobs.

Bush/Cheney had to follow up with the Bush/Cheney Home Loan scandal killed the economy and cost the USA millions of jobs.

All of above Republican economics ultimately translate into millions upon millions upon millions of USA job losses. Big time layoffs are the end result. These jobs go abroad with tax codes that prevent taxation on profits made abroad from USA big name corporations.

There was a time when becoming employed by corporate America came with long term employment, fine wages and dependable retirement benefits. Those days are gone.


Steve Jacob 1 year, 6 months ago

As far as the banks, what did they expect? They loaned out money at 40X for every $1 in deposit and almost ruined our country. Your going to be more regulated after that.


autie 1 year, 6 months ago

Crossland is not very popular with the trade unions. Go figure. Not big on taxes but sure living large off of public projects.


billschwo 1 year, 6 months ago

Education that is what it is all about, we have been neglecting our education, cutting funds and teachers. Without education there will be no skilled labor. The Damn Republicans don't care about the future only their friends and pocket books.


costello 1 year, 6 months ago

So, the construction industry in Kansas is waiting to see what happens on Nov. 6 (although in the rest of the region and the nation it isn't), Kansas workers are unemployable because they're a bunch of druggies and thieves, and the banks in Kansas are overregulated?


jim7 1 year, 6 months ago

Ivan Crossland of Crossland construction can not hire gualified workers because he will not pay a decent wage to get skilled workers.There is a large supply of skilled construction workers in Kansas,but they will not work for contractors kike Crossland construction.


riverdrifter 1 year, 6 months ago

“The economy is still relatively flat,” said Stan Ahlerich, executive director of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors."

Supply-sider cooking up excuses.

Try again.


Enlightenment 1 year, 6 months ago

Have you noticed that many folks that complain about Pres. Obama and his inability to improve the economy are living in states with Rep. governors that are under performing adjacent states with Dem. leadership. Two examples include KS and WI.


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