Reopening San Diego

Reopening Means More Jobs, but Some Businesses Are Struggling to Find Workers

As San Diego County moves into the orange tier, the demand for workers is up, but some business owners say they're struggling to find applicants

NBC Universal, Inc.

As San Diego County businesses move into the orange tier and begin to increase indoor capacity at restaurants, bars and gyms, staffing can also increase, but many employers are finding it hard to get any applicants.

"Everywhere I go, I see 'Employees Needed' or 'We're Now Hiring,' " said Charlie Boghosian, the owner of Chicken Charlie's. "We're hiring all positions: managers, cashiers, servers, cooks."

Boghosian said that, between his three locations, he has about 70 employees and needs to hire another 20-25 as he prepares for the summer.

He's not the only one who's looking to expand staffing.

"We're hiring receptionists, front desk; we're hiring massage therapists because we want to grow our business, and we're hiring estheticians," said Angelica Sele, a small business owner who's also struggling to hire employees in a business sector that has been hit hard by the pandemic.

"In our industry, we were closed for so long," Sele said.

The restaurant industry isn't fairing much better. Now in the orange tier, they can operate at up to 50% capacity indoors, but Boghosian said he needs the staff for it.

"I can't wait until we get to 100%, but that also means we need to staff at 100%, and that's been the struggle lately," Boghosian said.

There are various reasons help-wanted signs are staying up for so long.

"We have 9.7 million Americans, ostensibly unemployed, who are eligible to work, able to work, yet we have employers clamoring, saying they can't fill positions," said workplace lawyer Adam Rosenthal.

Rosenthal said that, due to the business closures prompted by the pandemic, many people lost their jobs and children were sent home from in-person schooling. Rosenthal said this forced many parents, especially women, to stay home to care for their children or manage a work-from-home situation, but working from home is not possible every job.

"For low-wage jobs, the delta between working and collecting unemployment is smaller, and I think with the other factors at play, that may be a reason why," Rosenthal said. "But, certainly, I don't think that is not the answer."

Additional reasons include how some people still have safety concerns about returning to in-person jobs. The hope is that coronavirus cases continue to drop and vaccine eligibility expands. All Californians ages 16 and up will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine come April 15.

"You got to come here, get the job, fry some chicken and love 2021 because 2020 is over," Boghosian said.

Rosenthal also explained how smaller employers are having a harder time attracting workers compared to larger employers. However, he anticipates as things begin to fully reopen and safety measures continue, people will return to their jobs.

"As a parent, I'm only able to be here because I have a support system at home -- which is my parents and my husband -- and if I didn't have them, there would be either children here running around or I wouldn't be able to be here," Sele said. "So I get that, too, so with schools being open, I hope I will help find some good candidates."

To apply for work at Chicken Charlie's, send an e-mail to Employment@ChickenCharlies.com or to apply at Angelica B Beauty, email Angelicabbeauty@gmail.com

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