PALM CITY, Fla. — Among the hospitality industry, a Treasure Coast animal clinic is experiencing a labor shortage.
At the Palm City Animal Medical Center, the number of employed staff is down nearly 20%.
"I need about eight to 10 at this point that I could hire today," said medical director Rex Sentell. "My employees are starting to get stressed because they're working many hours because we don't have enough people to cover their hours."
Sentell said the clinic has temporarily reduced its operating hours and is now closing early on weekdays.
"We have a lot of people coming in and applying," said Sentell. "We call them, and they either don't call us back or they set up an appointment and don't show up for the appointment. Occasionally, we have some that take the job and then never show up for the job."
Currently, the clinic is offering $250 sign-on bonuses for receptionists and technicians and $100 bonuses for other positions.
"We're looking for people for the doggie day care, for the kennels, for grooming and technicians, especially. Receptionists also," said Sentell. "I don't think it's just me. I think it's across the industry, all over the country."
As of May 21, the unemployment rate on the Treasure Coast is 5%, according to CareerSource Research Coast.
One year ago, the rate was 14%.
"If the wages that the employer is offering does not exceed what they're going to be earning with their unemployment benefits, it's cost-effective, I would say, for them to continue receiving the benefits," said Tracey McMorris, vice president of operations at CareerSource Research Coast.
Sentell said he's worried the staff shortage may continue as the clinic's busy season picks up this summer.
"This is, hopefully, very temporary," said Sentell. "We're going to go back to normal hours as soon as we can get the employees."