Vacancies cause struggles

Four out of five Minnesota nonprofits say they’re grappling with job vacancies and are reporting more workforce shortages than peers nationwide, […]

Advocate holding sign at capital.

Four out of five Minnesota nonprofits say they’re grappling with job vacancies and are reporting more workforce shortages than peers nationwide, according to a new national survey. That includes nonprofits that serve people with disabilities. 

The survey, conducted by the National Council of Nonprofits, found that nearly 81 percent of Minnesota nonprofits had job openings, compared with nearly 75 percent of nonprofits nationally. 

Nearly two-thirds of Minnesota nonprofits surveyed have more job vacancies now than before the pandemic broke out in 2020. 

Job vacancies are forcing nonprofits to scale back programs and services — affecting needy Minnesotans ranging from those looking for housing assistance to parents scrambling to find child care. 

“If they’re short-staffed and a restaurant closes early or isn’t open on Tuesdays, that’s an inconvenience … whereas if a homeless shelter has reduced hours or has to scale back on facilities, that’s about basic needs,” said Kari Aanestad, associate director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. “That’s a threat to a vision of Minnesota being a place where everyone can thrive.” 

The nonprofit sector hasn’t recovered from the massive layoffs and furloughs of 2020 when the pandemic began, and it may be permanently reshaped by the crisis. 

In Minneapolis, Volunteers of America is seeing more early retirements and employees leaving for better pay, resulting in 62 openings — a vacancy rate of more than 10 percent. One employee pointed out that manager salaries at a McDonald’s rival the nonprofit’s starting pay, CEO Julie Manworren said. 

“We’re now competing with the gas stations, the fast food places, the dollar stores — places that perhaps don’t have the level of stress, or meaning, that our positions have,” Manworren said. “We’re laser-focused on keeping pace with the market.” 

The staffing shortages have forced Volunteers of America to cut some services and close a home in Mora for people with disabilities. Residents were moved to a different home, but Manworren said she’d like to reopen the facility to meet the demand for services — as soon as she can find the staff for it. 

(Source: Star Tribune)

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