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Some SA businesses still struggling to retain employees

Rick Samame noted while business is thriving, inflation and staff shortages have posed challenges over the last several months.

SAN ANTONIO — As San Antonio’s unemployment rate is slowing declining, some local businesses are still struggling with hiring quality employees.

The San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) unemployment rate dipped a couple points to 4.3% in October from 4.5% in September.

The statewide unemployment rate dropped to 5.4%, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points from September.

Satisfying one’s sweet tooth comes in endless possibilities at the Alamo Candy Company.

Rick Samame, assistant CEO of the company, is instrumental in driving the business, which has been in the family for 33 years.

“Thank God, every year were growing, we’re growing. It’s just these past two years have been difficult,” Samame said.  

The pandemic has prompted challenges, including the inability to hire employees who are reliable and stay for more than a few days in some cases. There’s also the current issue of inflation driving up the cost of items deemed crucial in running the business.

“There’s new candies that I want to come out with but right now we don’t have the ingredients and the employees to make it,” Samame said.

The Alamo Candy Company’s west Hildebrand location has maintained a handful of longtime team members. The production facility has suffered with staffing shortages, resulting in low supply of certain candies.

“It’s hard to compete. We’re a mom and pop. They (prospective hires) say they come and they don’t. Or they come for two weeks and they stop showing up,” Samame said.

Cappy Lawton, CEO of the Lawton Family of Restaurants, noted his team is working diligently on advertising and interviewing candidates for hire.

Until Gov. Abbott intervened, Lawton required all of his employees to get the coronavirus vaccine. But in turn, quarantine of infected employees meant less staff.

“We have about 260 employees. We endeavor to have the best place for people to work and the best restaurants in the city for people to go to. To do that we’ve got to be careful about hiring who you employ,” Lawton said.

The restaurateur stressed business is up while demand is high.  

Lawton said it hasn’t been financially feasible to open for business on Monday’s for the past year and a half. But he’s confident wage increases and suitable benefits on top of creating a healthy work atmosphere will attract potential hires.

“To pay the lower to middle end more money in our society I think is a good thing. I’m optimistic that in a year we’ll be able to have more people working with us," Lawton said.

Workforce Solutions Alamo is hosting the Winter Workforce Virtual Job Fair on Dec. 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Employers with a need to fill available jobs are scheduled to participate in this no-cost event. 

Additional information can be found on the Workforce Solutions Alamo website calendar or WorkInTexas.com