Utah business owners grapple with staff shortage despite higher employment rate


HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – In southern Utah, several service sector business owners told ABC4 they were struggling to keep up with spring break crows and they were experiencing a shortage of staff. Yet officials from the state’s Department of Workforce Services say there has 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 have just announced that they will be closing every Wednesday due to understaffing.

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

At Lonny Boy’s Barbeque just down the street, co-owner Scott Allen says three of his employees quit this week. Now he has three times as much work and grueling hours left.

“100 hours a week, at least, 24/36 hours, just to stay on top, 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 restaurant manager George Rodinos says it has always been a challenge for him to recruit and retain staff in the area, but it has 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 saw a 3% increase in the number of people employed in the service and hospitality industry. Officials say they are also seeing more and more people withdrawing from unemployment benefits.

“Except everyone has ‘HIRE’ signs. For me, that just doesn’t fit. There must be something else. I just don’t believe it, that’s an answer right there, ”says Jordan.

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

“Why is it that 10 people sign up and send me their resumes, and none of them respond?” Jordan said.

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