The Coast News Group
Restaurants emerging from the pandemic have struggled to hire employees. Courtesy photo

Escondido businesses struggling to hire workers

ESCONDIDO — Businesses in Escondido are having a difficult time hiring employees, leaving some employers scrambling as the city starts shifting into a post-COVID mindset.

The Escondido Chamber of Commerce hosted a job fair last week, allowing more than 22 local businesses to meet potential hires face-to-face and spread the word about their employment needs.

James Rowten, of the Chamber of Commerce, said they are hoping to continue the job fair once a month.

“It’s been really difficult,” Rowten said. “You’ve got people willing to pay more hourly now. Some companies are even looking at some creative bonus structures for just applying and showing up to appointments in person where they’re actually giving $50 bonuses.”

Rowten explained that the service industry, particularly the restaurant industry, has been hit especially hard, as well as larger companies.

For example, The Super Dentists, which has multiple locations in San Diego County, has also faced challenges when it comes to finding qualified staff.

“They’ve talked about how difficult it is for them, not only to hire and train technicians because they actually have a school associated with their business, but it’s really been difficult for them as they continue to have expansion plans, but they can’t open up new businesses or new locations until they can get the employees,” Rowten said.

CSL Staffing, an employment agency in Escondido, is also experiencing these same difficulties and has more than 350 open positions to fill.

“I think that the unemployed, for probably some justifiable reasons, aren’t able to come back to work yet,” Rowten said. “They’re either fortified with their unemployment and unemployment benefits, which includes the additional government funding that they’ve gotten. Second, if everybody’s not back at work, then, you know, a lot of people are dependent on whether they can get child care, which is a big expense.”

Don Romo, director of development for Erickson Hall Construction, said that they are struggling to hire people who have the right skill sets.

“We hire superintendents, project managers, project engineers, project executives, staff, field staff, all of that, and those people are in short supply all throughout the industry right now,” Romo said. “You’re going to see it starting to impact job costs, and it’s also starting to impact delivery time because things just take longer to get built.”

He added that the industry is looking for people with the right skillset and the desire to build.

“It’s not a good thing, but it’s temporary. We’ve been around a long time, and this is temporary. We just need to keep doing the best we can to be positive and successful and the rest will work out,” Romo said.