Utah business owners grapple with staff shortage despite higher employment rate

HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – In southern Utah, several service business owners tell ABC4 they’re struggling to keep up with the spring break crows and are experiencing a staff shortage. Yet officials from the state’s Department of Manpower Services say there has in fact been an increase in this sector of employment in Washington County.

Sol Jordan is a partial owner of Muddy Bees Bakery in Hurricane. She and her partners just announced that they will close every Wednesday due to a staff shortage.

“We want to run an efficient business, but to do that we also need to have employees,” says Jordan.

At Lonny Boy’s barbecue just down the street, co-owner Scott Allen said three of his employees quit this week. Now he has three times the work and exhausting hours left.

“100 hours a week, at least, 24/36 hour shifts, just to stay on top of everything, because of the lack of help and the increase in the number of people walking through the door,” says Allen.

In Virgin, near Zion National Park is Balcony One. Longtime restaurateur George Rodinos says recruiting and retaining staff in the area has always been a challenge, but it’s only gotten worse since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic and the way it was handled, I think, has a lot to do with it. Too many people stay at home with their unemployment checks rather than working, ”says Rodinos.

According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Washington County has seen a 3% increase in the number of people accepting service and hospitality jobs. Officials say they are also seeing more people withdrawing from unemployment benefits.

“Except everyone has ‘HIRING’ signs. To me, that just doesn’t add up. There must be something else. I just don’t believe that, that’s an answer right there, ”Jordan says.

All of these restaurateurs say they even offer competitive compensation, but that doesn’t work either.

“Why do we have 10 people signing up and sending me their resumes, and none of them respond?” Jordan said.

These business owners say they just hope locals see the opportunity and knock on their doors.

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