Businesses luring employees along with customers this season

FOLSOM, Calif.  — The Hampton Inn in Folsom, California, has 147 rooms, but General Manager Enid Baldock could only rent 117 of them recently because she did not have enough workers to clean them.

“I was turning people away with 30 rooms (available). Ridiculous,” she said while stuffing bedsheets down a laundry chute to help our her skeleton housekeeping staff.

At the Palladio, a nearby shopping center with 85 stores and restaurants just off a busy highway, businesses appeared more focused on attracting workers than customers as “now hiring” signs outnumbered Black Friday fliers. Mac, a cosmetic retailer, was advertising a $1,500 bonus for anyone who would agree to work full time.

Businesses struggled to get through the Great Recession more than a decade ago with minimal staff because low demand forced them to lay off workers. But the opposite is playing out in the pandemic, this time with lots of demand but fewer workers willing to return following government-imposed lockdowns.