Restaurants’ Newest Struggle: Finding Workers

Reopened restaurants are finding it increasingly difficult to find workers:

Capacity restrictions and distancing requirements have drastically cut wages for workers like servers, who rely on tips to make up for an hourly wage at or near the federal tipped minimum of $2.13 in many parts of the country, prompting them to find better-paying work. Others shifted to better-paying jobs in fields that boomed while dining imploded, such as retail fulfillment, especially as companies like Amazon and Target pay or have raised hourly wages to $15.

The problem doesn’t just affect independent or higher-end establishments. Fast-food mega-chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell are pushing to hire thousands of workers in an effort to reopen dining rooms, even holding drive-up spot interviews in parking lots.

More here.

If restaurants are beset by capacity restrictions and closures, impacting your tips, you may be reluctant to return. Especially if you’ve left for a job at, for example, an Amazon fulfillment center, which is never subject to those restrictions and pays a predictable wage. You’re also far more likely to get benefits working for a major company than a small restaurant, which is particularly relevant in the middle of a health crisis.

With e-commerce growing rapidly, I see little incentive for restaurant workers to return. Perhaps the industry will wind up permanently smaller, more automated, or both.

For more on business and the economy, check out these posts:

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Photo: “waiter” by zoetnet is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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