Valley businesses struggling with staffing as pandemic continues

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Despite a thriving economy coming out the pandemic, businesses can't find enough people to hire.

It has been a struggle to open Belmont Car Wash due to the lack of workers.

Business owner Serge Haitayan has own the company for 30 years and he tells me he's never seen it like this.

"Right now, we are still standing but I am looking down the road," he said. "If it continues on this trend, this is dangerous."

Wednesday, the Help Wanted Coalition hosted a press conference to bring attention to this problem.

Haitayan has even resorted to putting a "help wanted" sign outside of his store.

In the last two or three months, he's been forced to cut down his hours of operation, cut his shifts and cut services.

But what scares him the most is the lack of product - half of what he orders is out of stock.

A local supplier that supplies soda, they didn't deliver last week," he said. "The salesman tells me they have 12 trucks fully loaded sitting in their yard, nobody to deliver."

At worst, some businesses have had to shut their doors.

According the Chamber of Commerce, four businesses have had close due to pandemic related-issues -- Bocca Tacqueria in Tower, Rocket Dog, Cowboy Chicken in Fig Garden Village and Zack's Brewing.

These problems are not only in Fresno but also throughout the state.

Ellena Sweet's company oversees four Acura dealerships in the Valley and northern California.

She's points to federal unemployment benefits as the potential culprit.

"You'll get a bunch of applications and then no one calls you back so to us, that kind of feels like they are just applying to the job to continue to collect that unemployment," she said. "I can't say whether that's true or not but that's kind of what we think."

As unemployment benefits are set to expire in just a few weeks, the coalition is advocating for incentives that encourage employees to return to work, like financial incentives to both employees and small businesses, programs to offset the cost of childcare and rental assistance, plus no-cost vaccinations.
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