NM hospitality industry struggles to hire workers, blames ‘back to work’ incentives

“It forces us to reduce the hours of our food operations, we have to reduce our banquet operations and simple things,” Perez said. “Even the number of rooms we can serve on a weekend because we don’t have enough housekeepers or waiters to service those rooms. So that had a huge impact on the business.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Mexico’s unemployment rate was nearly 8% in June, tied with Connecticut for the nation’s worst unemployment rate.

The New Mexico Business Coalition believes the federal government’s supplemental unemployment benefits are to blame.

“Many employees are happy to be home and happy to be paid to be there,” said Carla Sonntag, president and founder of the New Mexico Business Coalition.

The state offers a back-to-work bonus, but Perez said new Mexicans aren’t really jumping on the opportunity.

“We’ve seen people take the job and are supposed to show up on Friday and not come. They have learned to manipulate the system and that is the problem,” he said.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office said they are trying to help businesses in any way they can with vaccination efforts, grants, funding and this back-to-work incentive.

The governor’s office said they didn’t believe those federal dollars were the reason people were staying home, but instead pointed to a Federal Reserve study that found the extra funds only had low impact:

“The state is using every tool available to help employers and workers, deploying an effective and efficient vaccination effort to quickly end the pandemic while supporting small businesses in New Mexico with grants and funding. , making more than $1 billion available for reopening and rehiring. , in addition to providing return-to-work support payments to offset transition costs and help make it easier for new Mexicans to return to work – and to help businesses be able to make decisions that make returning to work easier. more attractive work for future employees.”

Heritage Hotel and Resorts offers its own signature and stay bonus. Perez said he expects an increase in the number of applicants when those federal dollars stop flowing.

“There’s a lot to complain about, especially after coming out of this pandemic, with activity levels being so good, I keep telling myself and our teams that this is going to end well. “, Perez said.

These additional federal benefits will end in early September.

The New Mexico Hospitality Association has also created a job site to help connect workers to open jobs.

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