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Many jobs, not enough workers in Utah

Many jobs, not enough workers in Utah (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) For three days, Trish Garapola was ready, willing and able to hire people for jobs in Utah hospital and corporate kitchens — and even advertised a job fair to do it.

But her experience in Utah this week served as a dramatic example of a report issued by the Utah Foundation, which found companies in the state are struggling to find workers.

"How many people in three days have shown up looking for work?" 2News asked.

"So far eight," she replied, adding she is "absolutely" begging people to apply.

Absent a positive drug test or a criminal past, she said, "If you walk in the door, you're getting a job."

But not enough people crossed the threshold, which did not hurt Jose Flores' chances of new employment.

The father of two already has a job as a kitchen "leader" at a nice restaurant — but wants a second position.

"That's my passion, I like to cook," he said. "We have to do, what we have to do to do, to provide for our families."

Thomas Cuisine Management held the fair, and Garapola said her jobs pay between $12.50 and $15 an hour.

Nobody will get rich at that scale, but she noted the pay is much higher than Utah's minimum wage of $7.25. Some of the positions don't require previous experience or a high school diploma, and the company offers medical, dental, and vision benefits.

Even where wages are higher, jobs also apparently outnumber job seekers.

Rich Thorn, of the Utah Associated General Contractors, said just about every company in his group has a worker shortage -- and they've resorted to unusual means to get people.

"We're seeing, for the first time in a long time, signing bonuses," he said. Some companies are "kinda poaching other folks' employees." He's heard of a welder receiving $10,000 to sign in with a company.

On the low end of the wage scale, he said some construction jobs pay between $60,000 and $75,000 a year — while other people can earn six figures.

To get the jobs, he suggested people visit contractors' offices. You will have to submit to a drug test and criminal background check.

But Thorn said, even if you fail the drug test, try again in three months, or even less.

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