San Diego County employers line up with bonuses to entice workers

Posted at 2:38 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 21:02:07-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Employers across San Diego County are offering bonuses of as much as $1,000 to get workers back on the job, despite unemployment above 7 percent.

From hospitality to manufacturing to casinos, jobseekers are being enticed with bonuses and hourly rate increases. Employers are competing with $300 weekly boosts to unemployment checks, childcare issues, and concerns over COVID, which has an outsize impact on service workers.

"People are afraid to come to work, and we're having to bribe them," said Phil Blair, executive officer of Manpower Staffing, which has 400 openings in the county. "This is a way to advance your career, by coming back when the employers need you. You can negotiate shifts, you can negotiate pay."

Manpower's now offering $150 bonuses to workers who stay at least 90 days, payable in three installments starting after 30 days on the job. It's also offering attendance bonuses and raised hourly rates by $1 to $2 dollars.

"This is just the market at work here," said Alan Gin, an economist at the University of San Diego. "Whenever there's a shortage, in this case, a shortage of labor, the price rises."

At Civico restaurants in downtown and Little Italy, owner Dario Gallo raised pay for back-of-the-house jobs by $3 to $4 per hour and is offering $250 dollar bonuses to those who stay at least six months. Still, he's getting only one or two applications a week.

"I think it's a trend, we're getting creative all over because we have to find a way to keep people," he said.

Chickenheadz in Ocean Beach is offering $200 to workers who stay at least two months.

On Tuesday, Pala Hotel and Casino announced it would pay $1,000 dollar bonuses to those who fill more than 100 hospitality positions and stay six months.

Workers would get two 500 dollar payments, 90 days apart.

Meanwhile, the $300 stimulus boost to unemployment payments last until Sept. 4.