KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Unemployment numbers are back to what they were before the COVID pandemic, but the challenges of the last three years have made it hard for cities to stay fully staffed.

Employers in all industries are doing everything they can to get and keep workers, but that can often be a taller task for city governments where position salaries are public, the hiring process is generally more beurocratic, and wages are generally lower than similar jobs in the private sector.

“The challenge is the public sector is losing candidates to the [hiring] process, to the private sector,” said Robert Half Missouri and Kansas Regional Director Erin Ziercher.

When FOX4 caught up with Kianna Hickmon at the Unified Government of KCK and Wyandotte County’s job fair this week, she knew she liked people and wanted that to be a big part of her next position.

“I really like working with the public and stuff like that and the Unified Government has a lot of public jobs where you’re working with the community every day,” Hickmon said.

The catch is she’s a potential employee who pays a lot of attention to her benefits package.

“I’ve got bad eyesight so that’s a big factor for me in anywhere I go, is if they have good vision benefits as well as dental,” Hickmon said.

That’s why Ziercher says workers like Hickmon might be good candidates for public sector jobs. Since those positions often don’t pay as well as other jobs, governments have to make it up in other ways.

“Excellent benefits, such as insurance, the costs are low,” Ziercher said. “Time off, they have a lot of holidays you don’t get in the private sector, and that sense of community.”

Unified Government Human Resources Director Renee Ramirez says that sense of community is strong with a job in the, and it comes with the perks to match.

“We have a rich benefit package,” Ramirez said. “We have our own wellness center where our employees can go and get medical care.”

Ramirez says she’s looking for as many applicants as she can find for nearly every kind of job in city government. They need workers so much that they’ve brought in local colleges and universities to help applicants meet the job requirements they might not satisfy.

“So that way, if there are positions that require a degree they can talk to the universities or colleges about how they can go about obtaining those degrees or certifications,” Ramirez said.

Click here for job listings in the Unified Government.

Click here to see other openings in local cities.