EL PASO, Texas -- With Covid-19 restrictions being lifted in Texas, more businesses are looking to hire.
However, some El Paso employers - particularly restaurants - are having a hard time filling positions.
"Employers are desperate," said Leo Duran, vice president of the Texas Restaurant Association. Duran said some restaurants can't compete with unemployment benefits, whether that be from state or federal funding.
His restaurant, L&J Cafe in central El Paso, is one of many currently hiring as he is hoping to expand business hours. Duran said many of those seeking jobs are looking for an increase in wages.
Cindy Ramos-Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said several restaurant managers have told her directly they haven't been able to fill positions that would allow them to open up.
"We're hoping that in the summer, we'll start getting more responses of employees coming back. But in the meantime, it's really creating a different economy here in El Paso, throughout the state as well, where businesses are going to need to start paying better," Duran said. "You've got to be more competitive, and those that are doing so will have a better luck or result in attracting and retaining employees."
Some restaurants, according to Duran are even trying to incentivize - for example, providing bonuses to get people on board.
According to Workforce Solutions Borderplex, El Paso's unemployment rate is currently at 8.3 percent - which accounts for 30,616 El Pasoans.
Unemployment benefits are based on a case-by-case basis. Texas Workforce Solutions said someone's weekly benefit amount could be between $70 to $535, plus, federal funding now allows an extra $300.
"We can totally understand that they are on a case-by-case basis with some situations where people may be doing better on unemployment than the wages that are being offered," said Bianca Cervantes, a spokeswoman for Workforce Solutions Borderplex. "However, we can't exactly speak to that being the specific reason that people aren't going back to work now."
Cervantes said data collected by the group shows many women haven't been able to go back to work or are having to continue to file for unemployment because of childcare challenges.
"We are mining data regularly to understand these barriers that women are facing and we are gathering program funding to support these women," Cervantes said.
Workforce Solutions Borderplex will be holding a virtual job fair Thursday. To learn more, click here.