Bay County not alone in struggle to fill jobs

WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It's hard to find anyone who wasn't impacted by Hurricane Michael.
In Walton County, some businesses are having trouble hiring staff.

Walton County is facing a small hiring pool as people continue to recover from Hurricane Michael. (WJHG/WECP)

At one restaurant in Inlet Beach, employees said they lost about two-thirds of their staff after the hurricane.

"All together, we were pretty well staffed across the board and then after Michael, we had maybe a handful of people," said Clinton Gay, Assistant General Manager at Big Bad Breakfast.

That puts more stress on the remaining staff members.

"Definitely [working] a lot harder than what we were in the past, in the past we had the staff that... everyone complimented each other, everyone was able to relieve the workload, now it's... we're at times struggling just to keep up and keep everything going," said Gay.

And makes wait times a little longer for customers.

"We would much rather give perfect, and the best service possible, even if that means us having to extend our wait time," said Gay.

CareerSource Okaloosa|Walton said a low unemployment rate may also impact how many people local businesses can hire.

In July, the unemployment rate for Walton county was 2.9 percent.

"If you can't afford to live here, you can't afford to work here either," said Casey Huggins, bartender and server at Big Bad Breakfast.

Huggins also said affordable housing could contribute to the shortage of employees.

"A lot of it has to do with the housing market. Personally, I think people just can't afford to live around here as much anymore, so it's making the employers have a hard time finding people," said Huggins.

Even though Walton County was not directly hit, Hurricane Michael caused a domino effect on life there, and some believe getting back to normal could take years.

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