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Hiring shortage persists despite loss of stimulus benefits

Posted at 4:29 PM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 21:24:58-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Two months after stimulus unemployment boosts ended, San Diego hotels and restaurants are still struggling to hire.

The issue is very apparent at what's supposed to be Mr. Moto Pizza's ninth location in Mission Valley. The space has been renovated and ready to open since September, but it's still closed because owner Gibran Fernandez can't fill the five needed positions to get it up and running. That's despite raising wages and offering referral bonuses.

"Very, very, very frustrating, obviously, because I am paying the rent, it's not cheap," he said. "I have never waited so long being ready."

A shortage of workers has plagued San Diego County's leisure and hospitality field since the state reopened last summer.

Despite ongoing Delta variant concerns, many in the industry thought workers would come back after $300 dollar weekly federal stimulus boosts to unemployment ended in early September.

But the field is still down nearly 40 thousand workers -- or 19 percent -- from pre-pandemic levels, according to the Employment Development Department.

"People have a lot of choices as far as where they want to work," said Alan Gin, economist at the University of San Diego.

Gin noted an additional 2 million Americans retired during the pandemic. He said that's created a higher supply of job openings, which gave workers the chance to quit their jobs and take better paying ones.

Across the U.S., the rate of quits is a record 2.9 percent. In leisure and hospitality, the rate balloons to 6.4 percent, the St. Louis Federal Reserve reported.

"It's just a matter of finding good people and hopefully that's sooner than later," Fernandez said.

Fernandez says he hopes to open the Mission Valley location in the next few weeks. The site is hosting a job fair Wednesday, Nov. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.