Louisville-area restaurants struggle with staffing shortages
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - “Hiring now” and “help wanted” signs are posted outside restaurants across the commonwealth.
Daniel Passafiume launched In Season Harvest Kitchen on West Main last May. His shop is a local family owned business that offer fresh, food locally grown from their Kentucky farm.
Passafiume said he’s seen a slight pickup in customers, but has been missing one thing.
”We just need more people,” Passafiume said. “We have a great staff, I need more people to hire. I’ve been in restaurants for almost 15 years now and I have never seen it like this. I have never struggled in any of my restaurants like to get staff when I want to.”
“I have enough to run through lunch now. But some days it is a little hairy,” Passafiume added.
Passafiume’s place is not alone. Sarah Ehresman, Director of Labor Market Intelligence at KentuckianaWorks, said restaurants saw the largest decline in employment levels during the pandemic, and they haven’t fully rebounded yet.
Looking at the numbers in the leisure and hospitality industry, Ehresman said they have been increasing this year.
She said we still down about 9% compared to right before the pandemic in 2020, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ehresman said that’s not because our labor force is struggling, that is a common misconception.
”We’ve had some recovery in that space,” Ehresman said. “As far as getting people back into the labor force and getting them to engage with the workforce and seeking jobs. But overall, I think that there’s some self-reflection for this sector for this sector to think about ways it can make those jobs more attractive to workers.”
”For example, the logistics sector, financial activity sector, we have seen fully rebound,” Ehresman added. “Overall payrolls in our region are still down about 1%.”
For now, restaurants like Passafiume’s are just asking for a little patience, and understanding. For their staff, and their customers too.
“We are seeing everybody kind of raise prices right now, and it’s not because people just want to make more money,” Passafiume said. “It is a tough industry and when our inputs go up we unfortunately have to figure out a way to make up some of those costs.”
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