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Tourist towns in turmoil as open jobs go unfilled

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There are signs the U.S. economy is regaining its footing, with the lowest number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment since the pandemic started. But businesses are struggling to find workers. Carter Evans reports.

Video Transcript

NORAH O'DONNELL: Tonight, there is some good economic news. 385,000 Americans filed for first time jobless benefits last week, the lowest number since the pandemic started. Business owners are seeing customers return but are struggling to find workers, so governors from 25 states are ending federal jobless programs early. Here's CBS's Carter Evans.

CARTER EVANS: COVID struck the idyllic Central California Coast hard both in cases and cost.

JULIE PACKARD: Our main revenue stream just shut off like a faucet.

CARTER EVANS: With so much of this region dependent on travelers, the economy tanked.

JULIE PACKARD: Monterey Peninsula is a tourism based economy. It's so expensive to live here that many people that are in the service industries moved.

CARTER EVANS: And that's a problem now that tourists are flocking back as California prepares to lift all COVID restrictions.

When you fill 100% of your seats again, will you have enough workers to serve them?

DOMINIC MERCURIO: Absolutely not. I've been looking for three months to find a dishwasher.

CARTER EVANS: Dominic Mercurio has run Cafe Fina on Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf for more than three decades. He's not alone in facing a tourist crush and a labor crunch.

DOMINIC MERCURIO: Bus boys are making $25 an hour.

CARTER EVANS: And you still can't get people to come in?

DOMINIC MERCURIO: No.

CARTER EVANS: And if that's not enough.

DOMINIC MERCURIO: I have two employees that would love to come to work. They can not find child care.

CARTER EVANS: At the Portola Hotel, reservations agent Stephanie Hernandez King says, that with two young daughters at home, she can't afford to work more than 20 hours a week.

STEPHANIE KING: Daycare is very expensive. I would have to pay literally to work.

JANINE CHICOURRAT: I think anybody that has small children is scrambling, especially a lot of daycare centers have shut down.

CARTER EVANS: The hotel kept just 17 employees when it closed for nearly a year. Managing director Janine Chicourrat says, she hopes to rehire more than 300.

Are you sure they're all going to be there when you need it back?

JANINE CHICOURRAT: I pray to God.

DOMINIC MERCURIO: Nobody saw this coming, that's for sure.

CARTER EVANS: Even in the ideal getaway spot, there's no getting away from COVID's lingering effects. Carter Evans, CBS News, Monterey.