A Sacramento cafe owner says she hiked her minimum wage to $16.50 an hour but new staff still didn't show up for their first shifts

·2 min read

A Sacramento cafe owner said some job applicants weren't turning up to interviews or their first shifts even after she hiked hourly wages to $16.50.

Janie Desmond Ison, who owns Steamers cafe in Sacramento, California, told CBS13 that she'd increased pay by 30% during the pandemic. California's minimum wage for companies with 25 or fewer employees is $13.

Ison said the pay hike wasn't enough to keep her cafe fully staffed.

"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 told CBS13.

Other business owners have told Insider that as many as 90% of candidates don't turn up to job interviews and that some quit soon after being hired. One restaurant owner said he was "basically hiring anyone that would show up," while the CEO of a solar-panel company said he had scheduled interviews with eight candidates for a job as an electrician, but only two showed up.

The US is suffering from a huge labor shortage as workers quit their jobs over wages, benefits, and working conditions, and restaurants have been hit especially hard.

Restaurants like Ison's have hiked up pay and offered improved benefits to attract new workers and retain existing ones. Many have also raised prices, cut opening hours, and closed their dining rooms.

Ison told CBS13 that she was closing Steamers cafe up to two hours early each day because she didn't have enough workers to keep it open for longer. The cafe is also currently unable to offer online orders "due to labor shortages," a notice on its website says.

Ison said that there was competition among employers for staff. "We're all scrambling around, 'don't take my employee, don't take my employee,'" she said. 

In a Craigslist ad posted in early November and updated on Tuesday, the cafe said it was looking for a part-time line cook to work weekend and evening shifts. Candidates needed at least two years kitchen experience and would be get between $18 and $26 an hour from a combination of wages and tips, the listing says.

Got a story about the labor shortage? Email this reporter at gdean@insider.com.

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