LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nathaniel Walker has worked the local Las Vegas party scene for years, but dropping the beat as an up-and-coming DJ doesn’t always drop a huge paycheck.

“It’s just been like weddings, quinceañeras, sweet sixteens, what have you,” Walker said, dressed in a tie and slacks Monday morning. “That’s very gig-based, and gig-based is sometimes chaos.”

But, he’s not ready to put this passion on pause. He’s now spinning the market for a second job.

“You do what you have to do so you can live the life that you want to,” Walker said minutes after a job interview. “I don’t need any sort of extravagant pay by any means. I really am just trying to live.”

Potential employees like Walker have options in Las Vegas, as thousands of positions remain vacant ahead of large events and hotel openings across the valley. This, in addition to the winter holiday shopping demand on the horizon, which ZipRecruiter says will likely be solidified this month.

Inside a Monday morning job fair for the anticipated Durango Casino & Resort. (KLAS)

As Keith Eure says, it’s a competition for the best hospitality workers in the world. He works as Vice President of Restaurants for Clique Hospitality, the company opening a Mexican restaurant and chic lounge in the new Durango Casino & Resort this year.

“Other towns are the minor leagues. This is the big leagues here in Vegas,” Eure said inside the Rocks Lounge at the Red Rock Resort Casino & Spa Monday morning. “Every position, we’re hiring for.”

Though he held interviews for around 200 restaurant positions during a career fair on Monday, that amount represents just a sixth of the 1,200 positions the resort is looking to fill before its November 20 opening.

Eure says he tried distinguishing these jobs from the thousands of others available by advertising Clique Hospitality’s work culture, offering employee-of-the-month incentives and noting upward mobility opportunities to applicants.

“We also are making incredible progress with our health and medical insurance coverage with our employees,” Eure said. “Our best candidates that’s helped us grow this company have always been people who started with us as bussers, runners, and we’ve grown them through their careers and now they’re directors, executives.”

The Fontainebleau, left, and Durango Casino & Resort are opening in the next few months, and competition for employees if fierce.

But, will potentials like this be enough to compete with the almost 6,000 positions still vacant at the upcoming and highly anticipated Fontainebleau (December 2023), the hundreds of openings anticipated for holiday retail shopping, and those temporary positions for the Las Vegas Grand Prix (November 2023) and Super Bowl (February 2024)?

Stephen Miller, director of research for UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research, says in this kind of climate, employees have the upper hand.

“For every six workers, we got 10 jobs out there open,” Miller said during a virtual June 2023 interview with 8 News Now. “The basic one: pay them more. But benefits, a more pleasant work environment – all those things count now more than they did before.”

Miller also indicates that the extra unemployment compensation delivered during part of the COVID-19 pandemic has given some a comfort to not return to jobs they do not want to work. Many are looking for positions that offer ample PTO, abilities for certain off days and work life quality improvements.

But applicants like Walker say reality may mean the decision needs to come sooner.

“Of course, I need to eat, and I need to pay my rent and things like that,” Walker said, leaving his job interview feeling hopeful of new employment incoming. “I’m hungry, almost literally hungry, to work.”

Clique Hospitality is hosting two other job fairs this week inside the Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa for restaurant and bar positions at the Durango Casino & Resort:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 12: 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 13: 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.