Businesses are hiring again, but the jobs remain unfilled

SPOKANE, Wash. — There are jobs for people who want them, but it seems a lot of people don’t.

This is causing local businesses to struggle with staffing. A year ago, Washington was at the highest unemployment rate ever at 16.3%. In March of this year the rate had dropped to 5.4%.

While many businesses had to close their doors last year due to the pandemic, places like Ace Hardware actually saw a boom, with so many people at home working around the house. Now, they find themselves in their busiest time of year with not enough employees to fill the shoes needed.

“Yesterday, a couple gentlemen said ‘You need more help in here,’ I said ‘You know what, we do. Do you know anybody who would be good at this job?'” recalled Dawn Gregg, owner of Ace Hardware off Rowan Avenue.

Gregg owns three locations in Spokane, and in the 18 years as owner, she has never seen a hiring season like now. The number of people looking for jobs is low, and people showing up to interviews sometimes is even lower.

“We have heard it from applicants of ‘I can make more if I stay home,’ that’s especially true for people caring for their children,” said Gregg.

Ace has been paying more as the minimum wage goes up, there have been other small increases as well. However, employees are doing 50% more work than they would normally be used to doing, creating a challenge caring for the customer.

“Our philosophy is to be the helpful place and we have lots of great customers who always say ‘I come here because there’s always someone to help you.’ We take it personally as owners that we cannot fulfill that promise,” said Gregg.

Gregg adds they have switched to mostly online hiring now and using outlets such as Indeed, Snag a Job and the Ace corporate website to recruit new people.