San Francisco, CA

$1,000 hiring bonus for dishwashers? Why is there a labor shortage with high unemployment?

Ed Walsh

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Businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area are having trouble finding workers despite California's high unemployment rate. Photo by Ed Walsh

It is not a misprint. The luxury retirement community Spring Lake Village in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Santa Rosa is offering a $1,000 sign up bonus for dishwashers. The job also pays a at least $16 per hour. The minimum wage in Santa Rosa is $15.20 an hour.

If you search help wanted ads, you will find that sign up bonuses are commonplace. A San Francisco dog groomer company in the Mission Bay also offers a $1,000 sing up bonus for experienced dog groomers. A number of other listings offer bonuses up to $2,000.

The unemployement rate in California is 8.5%. How are so many people out of work when so many jobs are going begging?

That question was a topic of discusssion this week on the popular nationally-syndicated radio talk show based in California, The Armstrong and Getty Show. Host Jack Armstrong said that he was handed a help wanted card at the drive through window at McDonalds and that the restaurant was paying $17.50 an hour. The hosts noted that they see help wanted signs everywhere and that the "worker shortage" was likely the result of generous unemployement benefits creating incentives for workers to stay home. Armstrong said he would be Tweeting photos of the help wanted signs he sees.

"Remember if you have ever read 'The Grapes of Wrath' how the family travels across in that old truck and they they drive past thousands and thousands of help wanted signs on their way to California, to try to find work," Armstrong said sarcastically.

"My gosh it's just so it's so transparent, what's happening here that 'we're the party that 'we'll give you money we'll give you lots of money. Vote for us,'" said host Joe Getty noting the inclination of politicians to buy votes and creating incentives for people to not work.

The Counter reports that worker shortage is very evident in Southern California.

“We’re offering a hiring incentive where if you bring a friend on referral, if they last a certain amount of time, you get a $250 bonus, and it’s $500 for managers,” said chef Jason Neroni, owner of 350-seat restaurant The Rose in Venice, a beachside community in Los Angeles told the Counter. “It has been an extreme challenge. I can’t even activate my areas outside because I don’t have enough service staff.”

Here are the latest stats on unemployment in California from the state's Employment Development Department

"California’s month-over unemployment rate improved from 8.5 percent in February to 8.3 percent in March2 down from the 16 percent peak in April 2020.

  • All but one of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs last month. Leisure & Hospitality (+42,400) continued to have the state’s largest month-over increase thanks to Full-Service Restaurants. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+32,200) also had large gains thanks to strength in Clothing Stores and Transportation and Warehousing. Strong gains were also posted in Professional and Business Services (+22,000) led by accounting, tax preparation, and bookkeeping firms.
  • Financial Activities (-600) was the only industry sector to suffer a month-over job loss, which was mainly due to declines in Finance and Insurance, as well as Activities Related to Real Estate."

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