Lack of workers to fill new shopping center jobs could boost wages


MISSOULA, Mont. - A new multimillion-dollar shopping center under construction on the south end of Missoula is set to create hundreds of new jobs.

A cluster of new retail businesses, including Kohl's and Cabela's, is planned for the center near the intersection of Reserve and Brooks Street.

Missoula Job Service officials say with unemployment at just 4.5 percent, there might not be enough Missoula workers to fill those jobs, but we're told that's a good problem to have.

When that happens, Missoula Job Services Director Wolf Ametsbichler says it drives up the wages for those new jobs to make them more attractive.

Ametsbichler says that, in turn, leads to increases for high wage workers, because the pay gap between low skilled and high skilled jobs tends to stay the same.

"It's an excellent situation for any wage worker, because the labor market as a whole is not that segmented," said Ametsbichler. "People have different skills, but if it gets tighter on one end -- on the lower end -- it starts to ripple into the higher end."

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