Staffing challenges remain at Virginia Beach Oceanfront

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Posted at 2:56 PM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 16:27:44-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - There are about 700 job openings in the hospitality industry in the City of Virginia Beach, which is down from about a month ago, but remains high, according to John Zirkle, the head of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association.

"The staffing crisis is still very much prevalent," Zirkle told News 3 Thursday.

It's not just hotels. Restaurants and other businesses are also struggling to find enough people to be fully staffed.

"We represent about 45 percent of the lost jobs in the state. Right now, we've got almost 90,000 jobs that are still open and the losses are still there," said Eric Terry, the President of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, & Travel Association.

Earlier this month, Gov. Ralph Northam announced a new program called Return to Earn. The state will match up $500 of hiring bonuses small businesses offer to employees if the businesses pay their employees at least $15 an hour.

Northam's staff didn't provide information on the number of people who have benefited from the program so far, but neither Zirkle nor Terry have heard of anyone utilizing it.

"I think the governor had good intentions. I think it was more for show than feasibility," Zirkle said.

Some businesses have taken matters into their own hands and offered their own kind of incentives, but shortages remain.

"[There's been] some progress. Some people are realizing it's time to get back to work. Some people are tired of sitting at home. They feel safer with the vaccines," Zirkle said.

Still, the businesses have had to adapt. "I think they're adjusting as best they can to try to at least equate the staffing with the level of businesses," Terry said.

Going forward, Terry expects things to pick up in September when federal unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire, but Hampton Roads businesses need the help now during the busy tourism season.

"It's going to take an all-out effort to get people back into the industry," Terry said. "I think some may have left the industry, so we're going to have to attract people to come back into the industry."