SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - April numbers show the country added 164,000 jobs last month, bringing unemployment down to 3.9% percent. While many see it as a sign the country is on an up swing, it also means a smaller pool of workers for companies to choose from. One of those companies is Union Pacific.
"This is not your grandfathers railroad, this is the railroad of the 21st century," said Jeff DeGraff, a spokesman for the 155 year old railroad company. He explained the company knew they wouldn't win qualified workers unless they pulled out all the stops. "When we go out to try to compete for these qualified workers that are getting offers from other areas, I think we have a very attractive offer to put in front of them."
Many of those job offers now come with a signing bonus, ranging anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000.
KY3 and KSPR News asked people at the Missouri Career Center whether this interested them or not. One of those interested was former truck driver Patricia Harris. "They have sign on bonuses for other things so yes, that would be great," said Harris. "$25,000 is a lot of money." Jeff DeGraff clarified the signing bonus money is not all given up front, a portion of it is given at the start of employment while the rest is distributed over the employment contract's duration.
It's not just train crews Union Pacific is looking for. DeGraff said they have a wide variety of open positions, including engine electricians, mechanics, wielders and office workers. He gave KY3 and KSPR News a list of general qualifications people need to apply for a job with Union Pacific. Applicants must be 18 years of age with a valid driver's license. Applicants must also be able to pass a pre-employment English test, in addition to physical tests. Jeff said there are also listening, reading, and reaction tests to measure how well an applicant can learn on the job. There are additional qualifications depending on the different jobs people can apply for.
Union Pacific does not run through Springfield, but does have locations in Saint Louis and Kansas City. "We love our folks in Missouri and serving our customers there," said DeGraff. "We're looking forward to building our team up there." Patricia Harris also encouraged people to try something new. "Check it out and see what you've already done and compare it to what it is."
BNSF trains do run through Springfield, Saint Louis, and Kansas City.