Restaurants still can't find enough employees and it's probably not getting better anytime soon
- Restaurant operators are expecting the labor crunch to continue at least through 2022.
- 7 out of 10 operators report still not having enough employees to support customer demand.
The labor crunch at
That's according to the National Restaurant Association, which released its 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry on Tuesday. The report found that roughly half of restaurant operators expect that recruiting and retaining workers will be their biggest challenge this year.
The report is based on surveys of 3,000 restaurant operators and 1,000 adult customers conducted in November and December 2021. Seven out of 10 operators reported not having enough employees to support demand at their restaurants, and the majority said they don't anticipate the labor situation to improve in 2022.
Beyond labor, restaurant operators are concerned about higher-than-normal food and occupancy costs — the majority of operators surveyed said they think it will be at least a year before these challenges subside.
Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group at the National Restaurant Association, described the situation as the "new normal" for the restaurant industry.
"Given emergent technology, changing consumer behavior and dining preferences, and the extraordinary challenges of the last two years, the industry is unlikely to ever completely return to its pre-pandemic state," Riehle said in a statement.
The report is in line with an earlier survey from small business network Alignable, which found that only 3% of restaurant owners weren't struggling to hire workers.
Those challenges, combined with the possibility of higher pay and more consistent schedules elsewhere, have led restaurant workers to leave the industry in droves: In November 2021, 1 million of the 4.5 million Americans who quit their jobs were restaurant and hotel workers, a new record for the industry.
Employees who remain in the industry are left scrambling to serve customers and fulfill to-go orders, and restaurants have been forced to close dining rooms and cut operating hours to help curb the impacts of the
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