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Restaurants Are Booming, But Face Hiring Shortages



tim-mossholder-vdhNO4mGQ14 | Restaurants Are Booming, But Face Hiring Shortages | Featured

After going through closures, the restaurant industry is now facing a new problem: hiring shortages. Even as dining restrictions are beginning to lift across the country and more people receive vaccinations, restaurants still have to contend with the booming demand. Not enough people want to work for restaurants right now.

RELATED: Not Even Democrats Want Biden’s American Jobs Plan

Pandemic Closed Restaurants Last Year

When the government ordered restaurants to close last year, many establishments had to let workers go. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, restaurants and bars lost around 5.5 million jobs between March and April last year. As a result, millions of Americans suddenly found themselves out of work. 

Now, these jobs are coming back in droves. Restaurants and bars added about 176,000 new jobs in March. However, this number is still 1.8 million jobs below the pre-pandemic employment level. According to the National Restaurant Association, that’s 15% below February levels last year. 

From Fast-food to High End, Restaurants Face Hiring Shortages

The hiring shortage affects all restaurant types across the spectrum. Darden Restaurants, owner of Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, and other chains, said hiring was their foremost priority.

“Our greatest challenge right now is staffing,” said CEO Eugene Lee last month. Before the pandemic, Darden had about 165,000 active hourly employees. In contrast, that number shrunk to about 115,000.

Fast-food chain Taco Bell hopes to hire at least 5,000 people during a nationwide hiring event this week. Rival McDonald's wants even more. They plan to hire 25,000 employees in Texas alone.

The fast-food giant started a three-day hiring event last week. Meanwhile, IHOP started targeting 10,000 new workers. The company plans to launch a national recruiting day on May 19.

Where are the Restaurant Workers?

Glassdoor CEO Andrew Chamberlain thinks one of the reasons is increased demand this year. Many restaurants “are getting ready to open up and hire at the same time.

It's leading to a massive boost in demand for these workers,” he said. Chamberlain also added that fewer people might be looking for restaurant jobs compared to before.

Many think that a sizable number of workers left the industry altogether. The pandemic disrupted what was once a lucrative career option for many workers. Instead, their workplace shut down and left them without any alternatives.

Given the fragility of the industry, and with the pandemic still raging, it’s no wonder why some workers hesitate to rejoin their old jobs. In fact, Glassdoor reported that job searches under “restaurant server” changed for other search keywords.

These included “data entry,” which jumped 400%, “remote position” which rose 300%, and Amazon opening, which increased 600%.  

In addition, some workers may have gone back to school. School enrollment tends to surge during recessions, Chamberlain explained. For some, returning to a labor-intensive job might be difficult because of child-rearing responsibilities. “All of these factors combined are creating a perfect storm hitting restaurants,” Chamberlain observed.

Unemployment Benefits

John Horne, owner of Anna Maria Oyster Bar in the Bradenton area in Florida, thinks that unemployment benefits are too attractive right now. Home thinks that for low-earning restaurant workers, unemployment benefits amount to about the same as a check from a restaurant.

However, collecting unemployment without the risk of exposure to Covid-19. In addition, Home also voiced concerns about raising the minimum wage. This is a position he shares with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, where he is restaurant director.

Watch the PBS NewsHour video reporting that despite rising salaries, the skilled-labor shortage is getting worse:

What do you think is the major cause for restaurant hiring shortages?

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Why do you think there are hiring shortages in the restaurant industry? Do you think the situation will resolve itself soon?

Share with us what you think about dining out and going to restaurants during the pandemic. Leave your comments below.



  • Donald R. Mowers says:

    If you want to receive $$$$ work for it. Nothing is free

  • C R LANE says:

    People are quickly returning to dining out without a doubt. The shortage of workers I suspect goes beyond dining. Most people who had to or were on unemployment know the can make more money on unemployment than if the go to work. The government should have offered a incentive for people to return to work rather than paying them more to stay out of work. People are unknowing being taught to be dependent on the government (not a good thing). Reality will hit when the government no longer gives extra money to stay unemployed. Then reality will rear it’s ugly head.

  • Liesl Hale says:

    Restaurant workers always struggle, especially those who work in the back of the house. Increased business, couple with the hiring crisis, results in an almost unbearable workload. Additionally, we are at constant risk due to Covid. Of course people opt for something, anything, else! Frontline workers who are working should be getting the extra money!!!

  • Catherine B says:

    When they are done collecting unemployment and want to go back it will be too late because illegal immigrants will be in those positions.

  • Esther says:

    I must say I agree w u!

  • Duke of Duke says:

    Reduce the unemployment handout and the lazy will go back to work.

  • William Phillips says:

    You Know Biden’s plan is to have all the black people and crack heads dependent on him handing out all this welfare money that he continually gives everybody. Hell he’s paying people to stay home. This is why his popularity is up. He’ll try and continue this for the next two years so it will influence people to put a democrat back in office in 2024. This man and his administration is full of Hippocrates. They can do and say what ever they want and anyone who contradicts them is deemed unfit. Amazing how the Nazi the Democrats don’t allow others to have an opinion.

  • Henry van Dalen says:

    Democrats like the idea of having people dependent on the government. I like C R LANE’s comment. Give incentives for working and cut the unemployment.

  • Sandi says:

    The government always makes it more difficult to work than stay at home. The people in this Covid pandemic that get hurt the worst ARE the ones that choose to work. If they get Covid, they get absolutely nothing more financially than those who chose not to work. Their stimulus check is the same as the person on SSI, etc., who do not have to be in the “front lines” — and yet, they may be out of work, without pay for a month or more. However, the government is more concerned with those whose circumstances of life did not change at all due to the pandemic — the ones who are doing the same thing as they were before the pandemic and now during the pandemic and after the pandemic. The “essential workers” however have lost way more financially, maybe to the point where they cannot pull out. When you make more on unemployment than you do working, why work? My friend got Covid, he couldn’t work for almost five weeks, 3 months later still not feeling up to snuff because he went back to work the day he got the release note — he lived alone, not one bit of help from the government to see if he needed food or anything. And as it should be, his friends, got the stuff he needed, put it in the back of our truck and sick, he came down and got it and didn’t expose us. The workers get squashed and those whose circumstances never change, get uplifted. Something is wrong there don’t you think? I am not advocating government help at all – AT ALL because sometimes the governments idea of help is to put quick sand under your feet so you can’t get out unless they throw you the rope. The more they dangle that carrot, the further some people sink. Well, damn that carrot, time to stand on our own two feet because this government has people who are only trying to watch out for themselves at our expense.

  • Jim Johnson says:

    I’ve been and will go again when I wish. This is as long as the restaurants I prefer are open for business.

  • Richard A. says:

    Stop printing more worthless paper to give away to lazy people who refuse to work. Go back to work and EARN a living like everyone else.

  • Rod says:

    people are becoming more dependent on the government and make more on unemployment than working, plus food stamps, and they all smoke weed don’t want to piss dirty. lazy no ambition generation of sloths, that’s the product of this government, the plan is working for the socialist demtard’s, and my quote taken from the movie the sixth sense, ” I see stupid people they’re everywhere”

  • Inder nayyar says:

    Every industry experiencing this problem of shortage of workforce because people are getting free money even more than what they were earning before NOW THE GOVERMENT MUST DIRECT THAT WORKFORCE TO RESUME THIEIR WORK IMMEDIATELY AND STOP DOLING OUT HARD EARNED MONEY OF TAX PAYERS TO THOSE LETHARGIC PEOPLES

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