hiring feature

“Now hiring” signs have sprung up all over Pierce County this spring as businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and are adding employees and looking for workers who want to work.

“It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen it,” said Avery Doran, owner of the Blackshear Auto Spa. “I have a couple of openings. I am about back to full staff right now, but it has been tough.”

Doran related a couple of experiences with hiring.

“A few weeks ago I hired a couple of people. One left during the work day and didn’t come back. One never showed up to start with,” he said.

Doran said the pandemic made that worse, but he said the problem with finding reliable employees existed long before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

“People just don’t want to work,” he said.

The food service industry has been the most affected — not just locally, but nationwide.

With restaurants at half-capacity due to social distancing requirements and the federal government handing out stimulus funds, many eating establishments are finding it hard to find employees and serve their customers.

Penny Hodges, assistant manager at Blackshear Huddle House, said labor shortages there have been primarily with cooks.

“We have had a hard time finding cooks,” she said. “It was a challenge before the pandemic, but it has gotten worse.”

The sign at the U.S. Highway 84 restaurant advertises their weekly specials — and also their job openings for cooks.

“We have been interviewing and we need up to three cooks to cover a shift,” Hodges said.

Down the four lane at the Courthouse intersection, Surcheros is finally almost up to full staff again.

“We are still looking for one or two people to complete our team, but it is much better than it was,” said Austin DeLoach, manager. “At the height of the shortage, we were needing seven employees here.”

DeLoach added that Blackshear’s location was much better off than other areas where the restaurant has franchises.

“We had locations where it was much worse than here,” he said. “It’s been tough.”