Hiring challenges persist despite move to Orange tier

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-17 17:44:05-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Nearly 10 thousand San Diegans went back to work last month, but employers in the county's hardest hit fields continue to struggle to fill jobs.

On Friday, the state reported that San Diego County's unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in March, with nearly 108,000 San Diegans losing their jobs in the last year.
And yet, for many, there is not a rush to find work.

"We're all trying to hire, it's just the job market right now is really tough for employers," said Chuck Abbott, general manager of the Intercontinental San Diego hotel.

Johan Engman, whose Rise and Shine Group runs the Breakfast Republic chain, said he hopes those who dine out locally are understanding.

"If you do notice that the food takes a little longer, and staff seemed to be scrambling around, it's not because we don't care, it's not because we want to give you bad service, it's because we're extremely understaffed," said Engman.

Breakfast Republic has 46 openings in the back of the house alone at its San Diego locations. Engman says they've tried all sorts of things to entice workers, including upping the pay, but takers are few.

"We are checking every single box there is to try to find people to work in our kitchen," he said.

Managers in San Diego's hospitality field have reported difficulties hiring, only becoming more dire now that the region is in the orange tier and restrictions are lifting.

Federal stimulus is boosting unemployment checks by $300 a week, some workers have moved away, or retrained, while others are waiting to be vaccinated.

Also Friday, Gov. Newsom signed a bill to require some hotels, event centers, and airport and building service providers to give their previously laid off workers first dibs on new jobs - a practice the city already requires for some similar businesses.

In March, the San Diego City Council renewed that re-hiring ordinance. The San Diego County Lodging Association is challenging it in court, saying it was not consulted and that it limits their ability to hire quickly in an ever-changing environment.