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Staffing shortages continue for many restaurants after pandemic unemployment benefits end

According to the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, 88% of hotels and restaurants do not have enough employees on staff to keep up with business.
An employee serves customers at Jeffrey's Restaurant in Marquette.
An employee serves customers at Jeffrey's Restaurant in Marquette.(WLUC)
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:15 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Federal pandemic unemployment benefits are no longer available for millions in the United States. Meanwhile, most businesses continue to face staffing shortages.

According to the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, 88% of restaurants and hotels do not have enough employees on staff to keep up with business.

At Aubree’s Pizzeria & Grill in Marquette, owner Bryan French says business is good. However, he says having so few employees makes it challenging.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business my whole life, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said French. “To have your sales up so much and you can’t find workers is unbelievable.”

French says he is hopeful that as extra benefits end, people will return to the workforce.

“I’m just glad that unemployment’s over and we’re moving forward with getting jobs again,” he said.

Another Marquette establishment has had a different experience. Jeffrey’s Restaurant is fully staffed. General manager Jessica Hanley says Jeffrey’s has retained the majority of its employees throughout the pandemic.

“We not only raised our rates of pay; we made sure that if they need time off or if they were sick or if their kids were sick, they could just call,” said Hanley. “They didn’t have to worry about it. Any grants or programs that came through, we helped them to get them.”

Hanley says employees need more than minimum wage and strict hours to get by. She believes other restaurants should consider that to help solve their staffing issues.

“I think people are going to have to realize they’re going to have to bring up their rates of pay,” Hanley said. “They’re going to have to do things to become competitive, such as giving people time off and making sure that you’re more flexible with daycare schedules and work schedules. I think unless people are willing to make those changes, people are still going to have trouble trying to find a workforce.”

Hanley says Jeffrey’s receives more applications than needed, but management keeps them on file for potential employment in the future.

Aubree’s is looking to fill positions. To apply for a job, visit aubrees.com.

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