HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – In Southern Utah, several business owners in the service industry tell ABC4 they’re struggling to keep up with the spring break crows and are experiencing a staffing shortage. Yet, leaders from the state’s Department of Workforce Services say there has actually been an increase in that job sector in Washington County.

Sol Jordan is a partial owner of Muddy Bees Bakery in Hurricane. She and her partners just announced they will be closing every Wednesday due to a shortage of staff.

“We want to run an efficient business, but to do that, we have to have employees also,” says Jordan.

Over at Lonny Boy’s Barbeque just down the street, co-owner Scott Allen says three of his employees quit just this week. Now he’s left with triple the work and exhausting hours.

“100 hours a week, at least, 24/36 hour shifts, just to stay on top of it all, because lack of help and increased numbers coming through the door,” says Allen.

In Virgin, near Zion National Park sits Balcony One. Long time restaurant operator, George Rodinos says it’s always been a challenge for him to recruit and keep staff in the area, but it’s only gotten worse since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic and the way it was handled I think has a lot to do with it. Too many people are staying home with their unemployment checks rather than work,” says Rodinos.

According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Washington County has seen a three percent increase in people taking jobs in the service and hospitality industry. Officials say they’re also seeing more people moving off of unemployment benefits.

“Except everybody has ‘HIRING’ signs. To me, that just doesn’t mesh. There’s got to be something else. I just don’t believe that, that is an answer right there,” says Jordan.

All these restaurant owners say they’re even offering competitive pay, but that isn’t working either.

“Why is it that we get 10 people to sign-up and send me their resumes, and not one responds?” says Jordan.

These business owners say they only hope locals will see opportunity and knock at their door.