Marriott CEO: Finding new hotel employees has been tough as demand spikes

Marriott CEO Tony Capuano says demand to stay at his hotels is recovering rapidly as people get their COVID-19 vaccine. But, finding new employees to service that spike in demand is proving to be a challenge right now. 

"We have had some labor challenges in those leisure destinations where we have seen demand spike so quickly," Capuano said on Yahoo Finance Live. "So in South Florida, Texas, Arizona we are running job fairs and we are providing some one-time hiring incentives to get the hotels staffed."

Marriott isn't alone in ramping up efforts to attract new workers (and retain current ones) amid a very tight labor market. 

Chipotle said Monday it would lift the average hourly wage for its restaurant workers to $15. The company is also offering employee referral bonuses of $200 for restaurant workers and $750 for general managers. The burrito chain is looking to fill 20,000 restaurant positions. 

Meanwhile, convenience store chain Sheetz said Monday it would hike the hourly rate for all of its 18,000 employees by $2 on May 21. It will also pay employees an added $1 an hour this summer.

The efforts come in the wake of a surprisingly lackluster April jobs report.

The U.S. economy created 266,000 jobs in April compared to the 1 million estimate. March's non-farm payroll gain was revised sharply lower, showing a rise of 770,000 versus the 916,000 previously reported.

Economists say the shocking miss versus estimates reflects the labor shortage, which in part could be being fueled by generous unemployment checks.

Reasons for the miss

Recall that as part of the recently passed American Rescue Plan, those qualified for unemployment insurance receive $300 per week in addition to state unemployment benefits. That extra level of income will continue through Sept. 6, 2021.

"We see two partial explanations for the payrolls disappointment. First, reopening effects likely overlapped with normal seasonal hiring patterns, resulting in less-impressive job gains on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Second, labor supply appears to be tighter than the unemployment rate suggests, likely reflecting the impact of unusually generous unemployment benefits and lingering virus-related impediments to working. It is hard to know how exactly much of the miss these factors account for, and there is likely some residual weakness in the report too," said Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius.

U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told Yahoo Finance Live the April jobs report was "good" all things being considered and the economic recovery from the pandemic has been "strong." Walsh was quick to downplay the notion the unemployment top up was holding back the jobs recovery.

"When you think about it, we still have millions of Americans out of work. Those millions of Americans, many of them would prefer to be working in a job rather than collecting unemployment because the unemployment is a short-term benefit that's going to run out whereas these people would like to get back to their careers, get back to their jobs, find new opportunities and new careers," Walsh said.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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