Business is booming in Geraldton as pandemic restrictions are eased but employers say they are finding it harder than ever to fill job vacancies. Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Joanne Fabling said the issue was nationwide and affecting a wide range of industries. “Local businesses have recently been raising this issue as a primary concern for the community,” she said. “It’s not just a local issue, it’s being seen all over and across a wide range of industries.” A recent chamber survey found many businesses in the region were reporting difficulty filling vacancies. “We’re seeing the same issues appear all over,” Ms Fabling said. “In IT, advertising, hospitality, cleaning, security and trades. It’s disappointing.” Broadwater Hotels and Resorts managing director Scott Cogar said the resort was having trouble attracting new staff. “We’ve had a number of jobs listed recently and I can say there’s been a dramatic decline on the number of applications for each,” he said. “It’s a huge issue, it’s putting additional burdens on the people we already have.” He said job ads for the hotel would usually attract between 40 and 50 applications but presently they’d be lucky to get a handful. “We’re talking about a small fraction of applications compared to this time last year,” he said. “This may impact our ability to operate if it stays stagnant.” The unemployment rate across Geraldton has remained steady at 8.3 per cent since December, despite the pandemic leading the chamber to speculate pandemic support measures are disincentivising work. Ms Fabling said Government response to the pandemic had been fantastic at saving at-risk jobs and preparing the economy to face the uncertainty. But she said the support had constrained the number of people seeking work and this was clearly beginning to affect businesses. “Until the JobSeeker and JobKeeper programs are wound back this will be a continuing problem because people seem to think the money is just too good,” she said. Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price said support programs introduced by the Federal Government had helped to save thousands of jobs across Australia during the pandemic. “We need to strike the right balance to ensure we are not discouraging Australians from taking up a job,” she said. “This is the reason why we have recently announced changes to these programs.” For classified job listings in The Geraldton Guardian, visit https://www.westregional.com.au/classifieds/.