Santa Maria’s unemployment rate is among the highest on the Central Coast yet local employers in the food service, retail and hospitality industries say they can’t find the workers to fill job openings.
Employers we spoke with say finding people willing to work for the wages and hours they have to offer is a challenge especially now going into the busy holiday season.
The Help Wanted – Seasonal Workers sign sits at the entrance to the Kirkland’s home decor store in the Enos Ranch Shopping Center in Santa Maria.
“Not as many people as we were hoping for”, said store manager Andrew King, “as of right now we are still five or six people below what we need to get through the quarter and we’ve just been having open interviews, people can walk right in and we can’t even get them in, unfortunately.”
It’s more or less the same situation across busy Betteravia Road at Wingstop in Santa Maria.
“It’s hard to find people, I had seven interviews the other day and only one showed up”, said Wingstop store manager Dawn Pasetta, “it’s kind of hard to get them to want to come to work.”
Local employers in the retail, food service and hospitality industries are competing in a smaller pool of qualified potential employees going into the holiday season.
“Most of the qualified people for a lot of positions probably are going to San Luis Obispo or the Five Cities or Santa Barbara, or they’re already kind of where they need to be, so right now, yeah, its pretty hard”, said Andrew King of Kirkland’s.
“Definitely, yeah”, adds Dawn Pasetta of Wingstop, “I have two people coming in today for second jobs, they already have a job, but they are looking for money, I’m definitely willing to work around schools, and other work schedules, anything just to find people who want to work and are looking to make some money.”