By Marissa Perlman

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – In three weeks, the state of California is set to fully reopen. But businesses won’t be the same as they were before the pandemic. Many continue to struggle to find enough people to work.

“We’re hiring signs” continue to pop up around town.

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Businesses across multiple industries here in the city can’t hire staff fast enough. And now, experts say you​ may be paying to keep the service industry afloat.

Nick Stump, Operating Partner At Fleet Feet in downtown Sacramento, says,  “The number of people applying has been much lower.”

From retail to restaurants, many industries are seeing a staff shortage.

Aziz Bellar Bi-Salah runs three restaurants in downtown Sacramento.

“We are still in a huge hiring freeze and hiring crunch,” he said.

Last spring after the pandemic hit, 30,000 restaurant workers and 17,000 retail workers in Sacramento lost their jobs. But now there’s a struggle to get them back.

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Financial experts say many minimum wage workers are choosing to stay on unemployment or are staying home to take care of the kid — pointing to rising childcare costs. They are also dealing with unemployment whiplash.

“They had a job, they didn’t have a job. I think there’s a concern for continuity,” said Jot Condie with the California Restaurants Association.

“Many workers are saying, ‘we’d rather stay home,'” said Sanjay Varshney, a financial expert with Goldstone Wealth Management.

Some restaurants are offering bonuses to come back.

Bellar Bi-Sallah, some employees’ wages to the dollar have jumped 20 percent in the past year.

“In almost every industry they’re paying more. I don’t think you’re going to see the price of our steaks go up 50 percent like the price of lumber at Home Depot, but it might,” he said.

Industry experts agree you may pay for that wage bump when you dine out.

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“There is an expectation that we will see food inflation. With all of the incentives that restaurants are offering, it’s a good deal for a lot of workers,” said Condie.

Marissa Perlman