Small businesses can’t find workers. Newsom counsels patience

Gov. Gavin Newsom had a big challenge when he stopped in Oakland on Thursday to highlight, as his office put it, “small businesses roaring back as California fully reopens”: Many small businesses aren’t roaring back yet because they’re having trouble hiring employees.

That includes Graffiti Pizza, an Oakland restaurant where Newsom spun pies for the cameras capturing the photo-op. Owner Davina Dickens said it’s been really difficult to find people for the four open positions she has that pay $17 an hour. Until she can, she will continue to do everything at the restaurant from answering the phone to cleaning to managing the payroll.

“I know, from firsthand experience, a handful of people who don’t want to work because they’re getting unemployment,” Dickens said. “I don’t think the governor and I agreed on that one.”

They didn’t. Newsom and the other East Bay elected leaders who joined him preached patience when it comes to the challenge of hiring.

“First of all, it’s been 15 months of real trauma,” Newsom said, as he ticked off the reasons why many small businesses have “help wanted” signs in their front windows.

Many working parents didn’t have access to child care, Newsom said, nor was there in-person classroom instruction in many parts of the state. Working women disproportionately make up a larger percentage of those not working, he said.

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