MGM Springfield's workforce dropped to about 2,300 as of the end of March. That's a decrease of nearly 700 since the casino opened last summer.
Speaking to reporters last week after presenting the numbers to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis said the company ramped up its hiring ahead of the opening in August. But he said the casino then slid into some slower months for gambling.
Mathis said the employee numbers will increase as special events are added this summer, but it's all about "fine tuning" the business.
"We're driving a bunch of overtime right now, because we're a little bit understaffed," Mathis said. "So there's a correlation between staffing and overtime. We're providing higher-quality jobs — perhaps not as many as we originally thought."
Mathis said a company-wide cost-cutting plan called MGM 2020 has had a "negligible" impact on the job numbers in Springfield.
Taking into account "vendor" employees, MGM said 2,384 employees work at the casino site.
The company said it experienced 38 percent turnover in 2018, and 16 percent so far in 2019. Some employees were fired for performance issues, while some are taking other jobs — including at the new Wynn Resorts casino opening in Everett in June.
MGM was required by its deal with Springfield to try to have 3,000 total employees when the casino opened.
But the deal was silent on whether that requirement continued afterwards.
Springfield City Councilor Mike Fenton, who chairs the city's casino oversight committee, said that flexibility was intentional.
Mathis said the company is trying.
"One of the challenges in an operating business is when people really understand the job, and the requirements of the job — shift work, for example," Mathis said. "Us maintaining at 44, 45 percent is a representation of that effort, because we could have dropped down even further, given some of the physical requirements of some of these jobs."
Mathis said 50 percent is going to be a "tough" goal to hit, in part because of what he described as "traditionally male-dominated departments," such as security.
In the past, gaming Commissioner Gayle Cameron has urged MGM to hire more women to security positions. Cameron is a former deputy superintendent with the New Jersey State Police.
Disclosure: MGM has purchased underwriting from New England Public Radio publicizing the company's non-gambling activities. The NEPR newsroom operates independently of the station's development department, and editorial decisions are made without regard to any funding relationships.