Restaurants, bars, retailers and tourism businesses are in need of more workers.

As COVID-19 restrictions loosen and with vaccinations underway, local businesses are seeing more customers and looking to hire more employees. Business owners said it’s a challenge to find the right people to fill those open spots.

Freight House in Paducah is hiring for front and back of the house. Applications are down 75%. Chef and proprietor Sarah Bradley said half the applicants don’t have restaurant experience.

“Most people have either found another job or have switched professions completely,” Bradley said. “So, everyone in Paducah is fighting for the same limited resources. So yeah, I think it’s a big struggle.”

If the restaurant doesn’t find candidates with industry experience, Bradley said it will extend their training time. Bradley said Freight House will also promote current workers to fill other roles.

Things are picking up at McClaran Manner Fashion Boutique as well, and the store is looking to hire. But, finding the right candidate with the customer service and retail experience can be a challenge.

Owner Brandi McClaran said she thinks interest in retail work has gone down.

“The pandemic has kind of driven people to look for other sources of employment and at-home employment, and really, being able to work from home or your computer, which is really the opposite of what I do,” McClaran said.

Back at Freight House, Bradley said the restaurant industry really needs to recover, and they need customers and staff to do that.

McClaran would like to see job fairs in the city to help recruit candidates.

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