By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There’s a worker shortage just as the holiday shopping season has gotten underway.

Black Friday may be here, but some businesses don’t have enough staff to stay open as long as they’d like.

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In Old Sacramento, this Christmas time will mean an early closing time for Steamers Cafe, where Janie Desmond Ison has been the owner for nearly three decades.

“It’s shocking to me that we’ve gotten to this point,” Ison said. 

Ison will be closing up two hours early each day, losing potential customers because she can’t find enough employees to keep her doors open.

“So after those months of COVID, and the lost revenue there, you finally have an opportunity to make it up — no staff,” Ison said. 

Even increasing employee pay has not helped

“So now we’re up to $16.50 an hour,” Ison said. 

That’s $3.50 an hour more than the Sacramento city minimum wage.

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Ison’s also competing with the other hundred Old Sac small business owners to retain employees.

“We’re all scrambling around, ‘don’t take my employee, don’t take my employee,’” Ison said. 

Old Sacramento is not alone. As businesses small and large enter the holiday season, a worker shortage has become a problem across the country. 

US Bureau of Labor statistics shows more workers are willing to quit or switch jobs as we emerge from the pandemic. 

UPS was hiring ahead of holidays with a new incentive: extra easy applications. Jobs were offered within thirty minutes of the application completion.

Ison says with her openings, even candidates that apply, often do not follow through in the hiring process.

“I’ve never seen a group of potential employees schedule interviews, either not show up and never tell you, or show up and you hire them and you never hear from them again,” Ison said.

Businesses coming back from the pandemic are ready to ring in the holidays. If they could only hire some help. 

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Ison says has bumped up pay 30 percent in the past 18 months to retain her staff. She is looking for help in the kitchen and at the cash register.