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Some Central Coast businesses seeing increased employment and business as pandemic restrictions ease

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Posted at 10:53 AM, Mar 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-05 13:54:26-05

The most recent jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows unemployment decreasing and employment increasing. The U.S. added 678,000 jobs last month. That blew past expectations and is the best month for job growth since last July. The unemployment rate fell to a new pandemic low at 3.8%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says most of the new jobs were at restaurants and bars.

Though people are slowly starting to return to the workforce as pandemic restrictions ease, some Central Coast businesses say it's not soon enough.

We Olive San Luis Obispo has been open for 15 years this August and owner Ray Russell says hiring hasn't been an easy task since the beginning of the pandemic.

"I usually have Cal Poly students working here, so it's worked out well for 14 years," said We Olive San Luis Obispo store owner, Ray Russell.

As they approach their 15th year Russell says hiring workers has been a challenge and he hasn't seen much improvement since the easing of pandemic restrictions.

"Oh, it's a lot more difficult," said Russell.

The pandemic isn't just affecting staff, but also customers.

"Oh the business has gone down quite a bit, but we're hopefully moving out of the pandemic and into more foot traffic and sales," said Russell.

Other local business owners say the easing of pandemic restrictions is already having a positive impact.

"Absolutely, especially when the face mask was lifted, so we're really happy that we're hiring and expanding," said Mon Ami Crepe Bar owner, Natalie Gann.

Gann said she is noticing a significant change in the number of applicants, especially since mid-February.

"...a large increase in applicants. I'd say double since January," said Gann.

Though the business took a hit during the pandemic, Gann is optimistic about the future.

"We're seeing things come back, definitely. We're not 100% during the week, but weekends are wonderful," said Gann.

With others not noticing much of a difference.

"I mean we haven't seen a whole lot of people asking about employment, but obviously I think it's going to be a lot easier at this point," said Junkgirls co-owner, Melissa James.

The pandemic forced Junkgirls to move online, but now that they are able to be open in-person as well as online, James is hoping it will continue to drive business.

"Since the mask restriction was lifted and we had that three-day weekend, I kind of feel like that was the starting point and it's just been getting better and better," said James.

View our local unemployment numbers for San Luis Obispo County here. View our local unemployment numbers for Santa Barbara County here. Keep in mind, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics takes more time to update the local numbers, so the report will only reflect December’s percentages. And January's percentages will hopefully be up by next week.