Higher unemployment rate in Pima County affecting businesses in Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Anika Schnelle,18, was out of a job for a few months before finding a pantry chef position at Feast in Tucson.

“I didn’t know where to look. People weren’t replying to my messages,” she said.

She said her previous job didn’t pay her enough, so she couldn’t fund herself after just having moved out.

“I had to rely on my parents and that was something that I had promised myself I wouldn’t do what ask them for money,” she said.

Since July, unemployment has been rising in Arizona. Pima County’s employment resources department said at the end of 2021, unemployment was a little over 3 percent in the county. At the end of 2022, it had risen to a little over 4 percent.

Doug Levy, the owner of Feast, said he’s had a hard time finding employees.

“At the beginning of the year, we had trouble finding anyone. We’d place an ad and no one would respond,” Levy said.

He hired about 80 people in 2022, and said about 60 of them quit, some not even telling him they were leaving.

He said he’s not really sure why and said his payroll is up over 30 percent compared to 2021. Levy said he’s not making as much of a profit.

Since Feast is so short-handed, he had to make some tough decisions, putting a sign on the front door telling people they have limited hours.

“Because we have been short handed, we haven’t been able to open on Sundays, for really, since Mother’s Day, and we just started opening for dinner only on Sundays,” Levy said.

Gary Hickey, the chef and a partner of Charro Steak and Del Rey in Downtown Tucson said for most of the year it was hard for him to find workers.

“I’d probably say one out of five people actually show up after the interview,” he said.

Compared to 2021, he said he hired a lot more people in 2022, but said the turnover rate is high.

“Emotions run high, stress levels run high. In any business, you take it very personally,” Hickey said.

He said the past 3 months he’s seen a lot more people applying but said he’s still having a hard time finding the right people.

“So it’s hard to find people that actually have previous work experience, people that are willing to work the hours that we work,” Hickey said.

He said prices going up affected the amount of people he hired but said inflation could be what’s motivating more people to apply.

“When you find someone that cares as much as you do, you want to take care of them and make sure that they respect the craft as much as you do,” he said.


Andrew Christiansen is a reporter for KGUN 9. Before joining the team, Andrew reported in Corpus Christi, Texas for KRIS6 News, Action 10 News and guest reported in Spanish for Telemundo Corpus Christi. Share your story ideas with Andrew by emailing [email protected] or by connecting on Facebook, or Twitter.


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