Some Atwater Village businesses offering higher wages to attract, retain workers amid labor shortage

ATWATER VILLAGE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Economists were predicting the U.S. would add 400,000 jobs in February. Instead, the U.S. added 678,000 jobs with unemployment now at 3.8%.

That's almost back to pre-pandemic levels, which saw 3.5% unemployment.

President Joe Biden believes the February jobs report signals that the U.S. is in a good spot to take on inflation. The businesses that survived the pandemic say with the omicron surge over, sales are on their way up, but issues remain.

Businesses in Atwater Village say they continue to have difficulty filling openings so they have turned to raising wages to keep staff and attract new employees in a competitive job market.

"We definitely had to put out feelers and do interviews. We had to work a little bit harder to find them and maybe I just feel like we got lucky," said Michelle Pedersen, one of the owners of Treehaus Boutique in Atwater Village.

"We have had staffing issues for sure," said Carrissa Morin of Proof Bakery in Atwater Village. "Last year was really, really difficult for us, especially in the summer when things started reopening. It seems like especially in the service industry, a lot of people who left the industry are not looking to return."

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February marked the 14th consecutive month of payroll growth, but economists say the rise in wages has contributed to the rise in inflation.

"Inflation is upon us and while wages may be up, the big question is, can they keep up with inflation and make it so that the real money you take home, the amount you can afford each month actually stays at a good number," said Emily Nix, an assistant professor of finance and business economics at USC.

At the height of the pandemic, our employment rate was 15% so business owners believe 3.8% unemployment is a welcome sign that our recovery is here to stay.

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