NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Federal unemployment benefits expired earlier this month, but thousands of New Mexicans say they still can’t find jobs. Now the state is about to step in and do it for them. The New Mexico Department of Tourism says it’s critical to the New Mexico economy to fill restaurant and hotel vacancies.
“The entertainment and hospitality industry, before the pandemic, was the second largest private industry in terms of job creation in New Mexico,” said Cody Johnson, spokesperson for the tourism department. “Obviously, we saw a huge drop in these jobs when the pandemic first started,” Johnson explained. “In August 2021, we are about 6,500 jobs below what we were in August 2019.”
A new survey released by New Meixco’s Tourism Department and Workforce Solutions Department aims to help match those who perceive unemployment with jobs in the hospitality industry. Business owners are encouraged to complete the questionnaire, which asks how many vacancies need to be filled and what tourism industry you are in. The results will then be sent to Workforce Solutions so that they can find qualified employees for the positions offered.
The tourism department says hotels and restaurants have the most job vacancies. Matthew DiGregory, owner of The Range Cafe, says the number of applications they have received since these federal benefits were exhausted has increased, but they still need to fill around 50 positions.
“The challenge has been to bring in people who can work the hours we need to be with us,” said DiGregory. “A lot of people can only work a few days a week, sometimes we have people who only want to work one day a week.”
DiGregory says when federal benefits were still in place, he received a lot of applications, but applicants either did not show up for their interviews or if they were hired, they did not show up for their shifts.
DiGregory says the trend has slowed down. He says their greatest need right now is in the back of the house, for cooks, which he explains is a challenge as these positions require some experience.
KRQE News 13 has contacted Workforce Solutions to find out if they will be tracking people’s job search progress, through this new survey program, but have had no response.