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Staffing Shortages Hamper Louisiana Restaurants Pandemic Recovery



LOUISIANA – The coronavirus pandemic has been known for its shortages. First, we had no toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Now we’re finding out there could be a shortage of certain kinds of beer. But probably the most serious shortage our state’s restaurant industry could be facing is not in the form of customers or products, but in the form of waitstaff and other personnel to handle all of those post-pandemic customers.

The Louisiana Restaurant Association has made note of that shortage. And many of that association’s members believe that the current lack of available employees is a function of government pandemic policies. I am speaking mainly of the enhanced unemployment benefits that were added to the assistance checks of so many who were out of work when the state’s restaurants were forced to close.

The problem is this, that stipend is creating a lot of apathy among workers. Why would a person want to get up, go to work, and be on their feet for hours at a time when they could make just about the same amount of money sitting on their couch?

The Louisiana Radio Network is reporting that 83% of Louisiana Restaurant Association members have job openings right now. That same story suggested that 93% of the state’s restauranteurs believe finding employees and retaining them will be as difficult as negotiating the pandemic was.

Some restaurant owners and managers are telling us that wages for workers are up between 15% and 20% compared to pre-pandemic wage rates. While that wage increase is motivating some workers to get back into the game many restauranteurs don’t think they will see the employee pool start to really grow until September. That’s when those enhanced federal unemployment benefits are due to expire.

So, while we do encourage you to visit your favorite food places early and often we are asking you to pack your patience and maybe a little more cash. A shortage of employees could mean delayed or diminished service at some establishments. The higher cost of hiring employees could also mean some increases on your favorite dishes too.

Still, you gotta eat, just be mindful of what could waiting for you the next time you’re led to your table for an evening out. Come to think of it, I believe I will just have a drink. You want one too? Well, take a look at these ideas.