REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is struggling to hire production workers for its beer factory and staff for its restaurants in this coastal area. This shortcoming has gotten so acute that the company has cut dining room hours and is now offering vintage cases of its 120-minute India Pale Ale as a signing bonus for new hires.
Sam Calagione, the company’s founder, said on a steamy afternoon at Dogfish Brewery this month that the company is using its heavy social media presence to “trigger the bat signal” and “entice drinking-loving adults” around Join the team and get busy business ahead of the holiday season.
Economic activity is expected to pick up in Delaware and across the country as people who missed the 2020 short breaks go on vacation and the newly vaccinated spending savings accumulate during the months at home.
But as they race to recruit ahead of an expected economic upturn in the summer, employers are making a complaint that dates back to the White House: They cannot find enough workers to fill their vacancies and meet rising customer demand.
An April employment report highlighted these concerns. Economists expected companies to hire a million people, but data released Friday showed they had only added 266,000 despite the fact that vaccines became widely available and the state and local economies were brought back to life. Many analysts thought labor shortages could explain the disappointment.
Some blame the expanded unemployment benefit, which provides an additional $ 300 a week through September to keep workers at home and keep hiring in check. Republican governors in Arkansas, Montana and South carolina moved last week to end additional unemployment benefits in their states, citing corporate labor disputes.
President Biden said Monday that there is no evidence that the benefit is a deterrent attitude. In his remarks at the White House, he said his administration would make it clear that any worker who turned down a suitable job offer, with rare exceptions for health concerns related to the coronavirus, would lose access to unemployment benefits. But school closings, restrictions on childcare and incomplete vaccine supplies played a bigger role in restricting recruitment, the president said.
He urged companies to get involved by helping workers gain access to vaccines and raise wages. “We also need to recognize that if people get a decent wage, they will go back to work,” said Biden.
There is a shortage of seasonal immigrants in businesses at tourist attractions like Rehoboth Beach Leftover of a ban issued last year that has now expired. However, the behavior of businesses in the region, from breweries to boardwalk, suggests that much of the labor shortage is also due to the simple reality that it is not easy for many businesses to move from a standstill to an economic sprint at the same time – especially with employers I am not sure whether the new boom will continue.
Many managers are unwilling to raise wages and prices enough to keep up because they fear that demand will decline in a few months and that they will face permanently higher wage costs. Instead, they resort to short-term corrections, e.g. For example, reducing working hours, introducing sales quotas, and offering signing bonuses to get people in the door.
Some employers in the Rehoboth area, who visited the New York Times last year to measure the temperature in the labor market, believe workers will flood back in September when the more generous unemployment benefits expire.
At least 10 people in and around Rehoboth, managers and workers, cited extended payments as the main cause of the labor shortage, although only two of them personally knew someone who refused to work in order to receive the benefit.
“Some of them are scared of the coronavirus,” said Alan Bergmann, a resident who knew six or seven people who gave up work. The 37-year-old miner was unable to receive benefits because state authorities said he was under-earned in Delaware or Pennsylvania, where he lived in the months leading up to the pandemic, to qualify.
Whether it’s unemployment insurance, lack of childcare or fear of infections keeping people at home, the perception that the job market is hot is at odds with the total workforce. Nationwide, the number of employees fell by 8.2 million compared to the prepandemic, and unemployment remained high in April at 6.1 percent.
In Delaware, Wawa gas stations have huge blue periwinkle signs that offer $ 500 signing bonuses and free “shorti“Hoagies every shift for new employees. A local country club offers referral rewards and creates jobs for members’ children and grandchildren. A local home builder has set a cap on the number of homes they can sell each month because everything – open lots, available materials, builders – is neglected.
“In many of these pandemic-hit parts of the economy, demand is always growing faster than supply,” said Nick Bunker, economist at Indeed. “There are readjustment costs.”
National data suggests that it takes time for workers to find new jobs. The openings have increased rapidly – a Record share of small business owners report that they have an opening that they are trying to fill – and The quit rates have recovered since last year, suggesting workers have more options.
Mr. Bergmann is one of those who benefit from it. He said he had a crime on his file and couldn’t find a job between that and the coronavirus last year. He struggled to survive with no income and cycled in and out of homelessness. Now he works for $ 16 an hour and sells shirts on the boardwalk. He’s been making good money as a craftsman for three months, enough to rent a room.
Brittany Resendes, 18, a waitress at Thompson Island Brewing Company in Rehoboth Beach, took out temporary unemployment insurance after her vacation in March 2020. However, she returned to work in June, though that meant earning less than she could have made with the extra $ 600 top-up possible last year.
“I was just ready to go back to work,” she said. “I missed it.”
She has since been promoted to waitress and now earns more than she would if she were still home and taking the extended $ 300 benefit. She plans to serve until she goes to the University of Delaware in August and then return during the school holidays.
Scott Kammerer oversees a local hotel company that owns the brewery where Ms. Resendes works, as well as restaurants such as Matt’s Fish Camp, Bluecoast, and Catch 54. He has been able to provide adequate staff by offering perks and taking advantage of the fact that he kept some workers as his restaurants did not close completely or for a very long time during the pandemic.
But it has also strengthened wages. The company’s initial no-tip pay rates increased from $ 9 two years ago to $ 12. Mr. Kammerer wasn’t forced to raise prices to cover rising costs as business volume has grown so much – 40 percent this year compared to a typical winter – that profits remain solid.
Other employers have more problems. By the end of April, the Peninsula Golf & Country Club hired around 100 seasonal workers at three job fairs. This year, after five trade fairs, only 40 employees were hired. There is a shortage of about 20 overseas students who usually work on seasonal visas, but the club cannot get people to come for interviews either.
In addition to relaxing the rules for hiring and offering bonuses for employee referrals, the club pays 10 to 20 percent more, depending on the job title. However, the managers there do not believe the wage increases in their area are sustainable, nor do they believe that the pay is preventing people from applying.
“There are no workers out there,” said Greg Tobias, director of Ocean Atlantic Companies, a group of companies that includes real estate development and the country club. “It’s not even a question of, are you paying enough money?”
The sprawling clubhouse restaurant was empty on a sunny afternoon this month with golfers running around. The company doesn’t have the staff to open it for lunch. The snack hut in the club’s wave pool may have to be closed this summer if no more employees can be found.
Part of the problem, said Mr Tobias, was that people had left the hospitality industry for the thriving local construction business. Ocean Atlantic-affiliated construction company Schell Brothers saw sales surge last year as people moved to the beach – either because they were retiring or because the pandemic made them look for more space. Schell Brothers’ subcontractors couldn’t double their workforce overnight, and the company was concerned that they would run out of finished lots. Builders encountered material shortages.
The company initially hiked prices 15 to 25 percent to cool the situation down. However, when the backlog reached 18 months, it introduced caps to slow the rise in sales.
“It’s almost like an anti-capitalist practice, but what would happen to our companies or employees if we ran out of finished lots would be worse,” said Preston Schell, co-founder and managing director of Ocean Atlantic Companies. They could have pushed prices as high as demand allowed, but they decided against it. It’s difficult to bring home prices down in the future, said Mr Schell. Therefore, it is better to cut the cost of a short-term start-up.
Such maneuvers could be important to policymakers from the White House to the Fed as they keep a close eye on inflation while optimism and trillions in government spending caused by vaccines boost the economy. If many companies view the summer boom as short-lived, it can keep price gains in check.
At Dogfish Head, the solution was to temporarily limit the supply. The Rehoboth brewery has cut their lunches and the sister restaurant next door is closed on Mondays. Mr Calagione said he did not want to think about the business they would be foregoing if they could not hire the dozen of staff that would be needed for the midsummer season.
However, with the company offering cases of its iconic favorite beer and signing bonuses for hiring new employees, it seems less focused on one other lever: permanent salary increases. Steve Cannon, a server at Dogfish Head, can go to what he sees as his retirement job. He said he hadn’t considered changing employers, but several employees recently left to get better wages elsewhere.
“There is no one,” said Mr. Cannon, 57. “So people are going to start throwing money at them.”
When asked if it would raise wages, Dogfish Head said it offered competitive wages for the region.