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SAN DIEGO – San Diego hotels are among the industries looking to staff up after months of pandemic restrictions, offering hundreds of dollars in signing bonuses for employees.

“Everyone is trying to find the strongest candidates and some of those harder to fill positions do require a signing bonus at this time,” said Tina Hingle, marketing manager at The Westgate Hotel. “We do offer a signing bonus for some of our positions as well as strong benefits.”

Although far from a new practice, the trend of paying out one-time bonuses to attract employees is being seen nationally at restaurants, theme parks and a number of other businesses as rising vaccination rates allow industries to return closer to normal.

At The Westgate, hotel job postings include a $300 signing bonus for housekeepers and a $500 incentive for a maintenance engineer position.

“A good engineer is definitely someone you want to keep around,” Hingle said, “so a $500 bonus is definitely enticing and hopefully we’ll bring someone in.”

San Diego County’s unemployment rate decreased to 6.9% in the last month on record, down from 7.2% the month before. That number still sits well above the 3.8% recorded in February 2020 before the extent of the pandemic was known.

Phil Blair, executive officer of Manpower San Diego, says hotels have been hit particularly hard in the rush to reopen.

“You need to understand that yes, I may be making as much or maybe more on unemployment with a subsidy,” Blair said. “But career-wise, they’re really damaging their future.”

He argues that the time to apply for jobs is now.

“Employers are going to be so loyal and so grateful to those employees that come back when they were needed, rather than Oct. 1 when your unemployment runs out, your subsidy runs out,” he said. “And now you want to come back to work? Well, let me tell you, ‘There’s the line.’”