Low unemployment: Missoula bakery struggles to find seasonal help for holidays

(KPAX) The holiday season is sneaking up on businesses across Montana.

“It is right around the corner here,” said Christy Wich, the owner of Black Cat Bake Shop in Missoula. “I always say it is like a freight train, and it is coming straight for us.”

Black Cat opened 25 years ago, and it’s now sending festive treats to customers across America. The business adds at least 20 items to its menu this time of year, and it typically hires six to eight new employees for the holidays, because they start making their stollen Christmas cake in mid-November.

Kathy and Tom Dove have been coming to the shop for years, and say they send the cake out for Christmas. They visit the shop so often, workers named their drink order after Kathy.

“Our favorite thing is probably the staff, the people that work here are remarkably professional, friendly, open and they remember our names,” said Dove.

But Wich said she’s having a harder and harder time finding reliable people to hire. More than once this week, she’s had potential employees not show up for interviews.

The unemployment rate in Missoula is one of the lowest in the state at 2.7 percent.

“That’s what makes it difficult, you get to a point where so few people are unemployed that those who are looking for work and those that are most qualified are ones that are already working,” she said.

Wich said she just needs people that can help prepare, bake, and mail holiday orders.