Silverton in ‘strange position’ of struggling to fill jobs
- 1,000 line up at Plaza Hotel and Casino job fair (6-28-2011)
VEGAS INC Coverage
Although thousands of people are applying for jobs at the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas, the Silverton, on the south end of the Strip, is struggling to fill just 50 jobs.
“I just can’t believe we’re having this problem,” Silverton President Craig Cavileer said. “I can’t even find girls to work the pool serving drinks for $15 per hour. It’s unbelievable.”
The Silverton began advertising several months ago, hoping to fill jobs from top-level managers to kitchen workers. Instead, it’s confronting the quirks of a long-suffering Las Vegas economy.
Chief among them: job candidates who don’t pass muster because of damaged credit histories or foreclosures — financial records that turn up as part of the typical credit checks performed by casino employers for money-handling jobs such as casino cashiers.
The Silverton has recently relaxed its no-tolerance policy on foreclosures and late credit payments for such jobs, he said. “We have to recognize that everyone has had challenges.”
Many customer-service employers are facing the same problem, said Ben Daseler, who supervises the state’s largest JobConnect office in central Las Vegas. “A lot of people who never had those problems before are having them now,” he said.
Another development working against the Silverton is the evolution of a part-time hospitality workforce in Las Vegas — workers who get paid more than full-time workers to compensate for the lack of benefits.
“A lot of people work multiple jobs now,” Cavileer said. “Some have a 40-hour job but they’re looking for another 20 hours. Or they only want to work Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are a lot of intricate situations we can’t accommodate.”
Cavileer has other reasons for the lack of qualified applicants.
Many hospitality workers who were unemployed over the past year or two have since found some kind of work and may be unwilling to change jobs, he said.
Part-time workers may be reluctant to give up a $14 per hour job on the Strip for a lower paying job at a smaller casino, even if it’s full-time work, he added.
Then there are the simple reasons people aren’t employable: They lack hospitality skills or can’t pass basic requirements such as a criminal-background check.
Station Casinos hasn’t had any problems finding employees, a company spokeswoman said.
The company filled 1,000 jobs within 90 days after a hiring push in January that was part of an effort to improve customer service. Station didn’t lower standards for those jobs or to fill seasonal pool jobs and other positions that opened because of attrition, spokeswoman Lori Nelson said.
During the go-go days a few years ago, casinos rushed to fill thousands of jobs amid the biggest and most expensive building boom in Las Vegas history. The downturn changed that. The Silverton’s new jobs aren’t a result of improved business but rather, a staffing requirement after losing workers through attrition. The casino employs nearly 1,000 people after undergoing multiple expansions, including a $160 million upgrade in 2008 that included a parking garage and casino expansion.
Many workers have since left town for cities with greater job growth so “there’s not a lot of new talent coming into Las Vegas like there was before,” Cavileer said.
The recession forced the casino to freeze hiring and cut pay for employees, although the freeze has since lifted and the casino has incrementally reinstated earlier wages.
Business has improved a bit on the Strip as the national economy begins a slow recovery. Local, off-Strip casinos such as the Silverton are still feeling the pinch of a regional economy that’s not expected to recover for more than a decade, however.
Still, the outlook for hospitality jobs is brighter than it was a few months ago as casino hiring has picked up, Daseler said.
State estimates show that hotels and casinos in the Las Vegas Valley have added a few thousand jobs in recent months — although employment in the sector is down nearly 20,000 workers from its 2006 peak of more than 170,000.
Silverton may turn to social media sites such as Facebook to help fill jobs after the usual methods, including listings on its website, ads on Craigslist and community job fairs, yielded little.
“It’s a strange position to be in,” Cavileer said.