Nearly 10K San Diegans back at work as hiring woes persist

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Posted at 5:33 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 20:42:02-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Nearly 10,000 San Diegans went back to work in April as the region entered the less restrictive orange tier of coronavirus restrictions. Still, bar, restaurant and hotel owners say they are struggling to attract workers.

"We're a little saddened by the hiring woes that are going on right now," said Gerald Torres, who owns City Tacos. "The response rate is minimal. One, maybe two applicants will come from maybe three or four ads, and this is countywide."

On Friday, the state Employment Development Department reported that county employers added 9,800 people to payrolls from March to April, when social distancing restrictions eased. At the same time, the region's jobless rate ticked down from 6.8 percent to 6.7 percent. A year ago, however, the unemployment rate was 15.9 percent.

Over the last 12 months, roughly 132,000 San Diegans have gone back to work, including Adan Montaño, the general manager at City Tacos' new location near Petco Park. His job now includes a larger workload.

"Usually it would be me, and probably a coworker of mine, and we'd have a couple of cooks versus just one cook in the back," he said.

Restaurant owners in San Diego have increased wages and offered hiring bonuses, but have struggled to attract workers. Employers are competing with the $300 weekly boost in unemployment, which lasts through September, plus lingering concerns over the virus.

In April, employment in the county's leisure and hospitality field was about 56,000 jobs -- or 27 percent -- below levels in April 2019, the latest comparable month pre-pandemic. Retail is about 5 percent down. Meanwhile, employment in Scientific Research and Development has grown slowly but steadily.

City Tacos has openings across its locations, those interested can email