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Some California businesses struggling to find employees

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Posted at 8:24 AM, May 08, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As the number of COVID-19 cases drops, the number of California businesses reopening is increasing.

However, getting employees back in is not as easy as just posting a job ad.

"We are hiring just about everywhere, and we're struggling with our hiring," said Johan Engman, CEO of the Rise and Shine Hospitality Group.

Engman's got restaurants across Southern California, including the popular spot Breakfast Republic.


"If you put out an ad two years ago, a year ago, you'd get 15 resumes," he said. "Now we're lucky if we get two or three."

Engman said there are more than 30 open positions just for kitchen staff. Many people they try to bring in for an interview end up as no-shows.

"The people I talk to at other restaurants are having the same problems," he said. "There's a lower response to hiring ads, lower turnouts for interviews; it's an ongoing challenge."

In San Luis Obispo County, there's a similar problem.

When businesses closed, some employees didn't wait for the jobs to come back. They found new careers.

In an April interview, the head of Sea Venture Beach Hotel said they're hiring for all departments, from housekeeping to the front desk, to the restaurant.

"We've got a total of eight to 10 positions available now," said Mark Eads, general manager of Sea Venture Beach Hotel.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many layoffs and furloughs and it has been difficult to hire back staff.

"You know, they still needed to take care of their families, and so a lot of those workers have found other industries," Eads said.

According to the state's Employment Development Department, the unemployment rate in March was down to 8.3%.

That's down from 8.5% the month before.

Also down, the number of people certifying for unemployment insurance benefits during the March 2021 sample week.

While the numbers from the state look positive, they also show places such as Kern County have seen the opposite.

The unemployment rate in Kern County was 11.1% in March 2021, up from a revised 10.9% the month before.

"Even though the broad sort of macro statistics look really good, we need to be a little bit careful that when we look within those numbers that not everyone is experiencing the recovery in the same way," said Hisham Foad, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Economics at San Diego State University.

Foad said the state is trending in the right direction, but there's still a ways to go.

"When people have been out of work for so long, it's not going to be an instantaneous recovery. It's going to take a little while to get the people back into work, to find the right people," he said.

With Gov. Newsom signaling a potential economic reopening in June, businesses are gearing up.

Engman's opening a new spot in San Diego. It's another installment to his popular Fig Tree Cafe. The only problem he's having is hiring staff.

"We are trying to hire an entire staff and having a very hard time," Engman said.