The Labor Crunch Is Complicating Restaurants’ Recovery

Atlanta restaurants have bounced back from the depths of the coronavirus pandemic, but operators are encountering a new problem: finding enough workers to staff their eateries.

Hiring issues are complicating restaurateurs’ efforts not only to expand during this recovery, but also fully open existing restaurants to capacity.

“We hear tenants all the time [say] they can’t open regular hours because they can’t find people to work,” said Jeff Fuqua, a prominent retail developer in Atlanta. “They can’t even find people to deliver food. It’s had a pretty dramatic effect.”

Restaurants and hotels have been among the hardest-hit businesses over the past year. In January 2020, 235,500 Georgians were employed at food service and drinking establishments, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By April, that number dropped to 132,700. Roughly 4,000 restaurants in the state shuttered permanently during 2020, according to the Georgia Restaurant Association.

By March, roughly 200,000 workers were back at Georgia restaurants and bars, nearly 13% fewer than prior to the pandemic. The delta, even as the state’s capacity restrictions have been lifted, is feeding angst in the industry. In a recent GRA survey, 78% of members said they are having trouble filling job openings.

Industry experts point out various reasons why restaurants are struggling to hire new workers: safety fears, extended federal unemployment benefits, which some believe are encouraging workers to stay home, a lack of available childcare and workers leaving the industry altogether. Those factors are colliding with restaurants’ push to hire workers back or grow to meet a year’s worth of pent-up desire to eat and drink out…Read this article in full HERE on BIZNOW Atlanta

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