Still Hiring: Business scrambling for applicants amid pandemic

Tim Arrietta is one of the owners of La Tolteca Mexican Restaurant in Azusa where outside the building, help wanted signs are placed as visible as the name of the restaurant. 

But, finding workers to apply has not been easy, says Arrietta.

"It’s been very very difficult. It’s been very thin… very very few applicants coming in," Arrietta adds.

He thinks fear of being in a workplace may be part of the problem. He also thinks some people have found they prefer working remotely or just living on unemployment which, for some, may be good enough for now.

Arrietta says, "They don’t need to be back. There’s no incentive for coming back to work. It used to be when somebody’s unemployment ran out they would start looking for work."

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Meanwhile, inside La Tolteca, we met Travis Ensling. He owns four Congregation Ale House Restaurants. They’re closed on Mondays, which is why he’s eating at Arrietta’s restaurant with colleagues. 

Ensling says he’s also having a tough time filling open jobs.

He furloughed about 50 workers across his four eateries and now is looking to hire as many as 40 people but filling those openings is proving to be a challenge.

Says Ensling, "For example in Long beach about 14 days ago, I had five interviews scheduled. One showed up."

It was actually hard to find job hunters and those we did find at a local employment agency didn’t want to talk about it. But, Rachel Morgan reached out thru a social media request on Facebook. 

We wanted to know who was job hunting. Few answered. Rachel was one of them. She has a temporary job an agency helped her fine but really needs a permanent one.

Says Morgan, "Everything that I have applied for I’ve gotten turned down for after several rounds of interviews and it honestly makes me sad because I’m somebody who wants to work."

A disability prevents her from being able to work in a restaurant or service-related field and that’s what adds to the frustration.

Nonetheless, Morgan says, "I’m not a picky person. I’m not somebody that looks at a job and says I can’t do that or I won’t do that."

Meanwhile what Arrietta's restaurants are offering are jobs like dishwashing, cooking and in most cases pay minimum wage.

Job hunting? These days there are lots of job apps and websites that can help, staffing agencies or just check out the "Help Wanted" signs people are posting outside their shops and restaurants up and down the streets.