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Businesses across San Luis Obispo seeing a shortage of staff

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Posted at 6:10 PM, Jun 23, 2021

Multiple businesses in downtown San Luis Obispo, just like places across the state, have been having trouble running day-to-day operations due to a lack of staff.

Since the state's reopening, many different business sectors have been seeing an increase in customers but are having a difficult time finding the staff to meet demand.

Downtown SLO says this has been affecting some businesses in the area.

"We are seeing more demand for goods and services and the businesses especially in some of our retail and hospitality sectors and we just don't have the labor to keep up with them,” said Downtown SLO CEO Bettina Swigger.

Political analyst Kevin Riggs says unemployment benefits have a lot to do with the shortage.

"There is no question that one of the lingering effects of the pandemic and all of the relief money that has been going out to people is this slow rate of those returning to the workplace,” Riggs said.

Some business owners agree and say they are seeing few people apply.

"It is the chief issue, it's the unemployment and the access to additional unemployment dollars and if the government is going to give you money, it's hard to expect people to pass that up,” said Darren Smith, SLO County business owner.

Places like the Madonna Inn say they are working to hire more people than before than pandemic, adding the shortage has also had a major impact on their day-to-day operations.

"We are seeing mostly in our bakery, we have a huge request for our bakery items and we just don't have enough bodies to fill all the orders,” said Amanda Rich, Madonna Inn Marketing manager.

Rich says they’ve never had to turn away business until now.

With unemployment benefits coming to an end this fall, many are hoping people will come back into the workplace sooner rather than later.

"I just would encourage everybody to be very patient and kind with the people who you are being served by and helping you in the shops and restaurants,” Swigger said.

With unemployment benefits ending in a couple of months, the job market will also have that turnaround and become a bit more competitive since a lot of people will be looking for a job. Experts suggest people start looking now and not wait until the last minute.

The most recent federal data show nearly 1.4 million job openings in the restaurant and hotel sector in April.