Nebraska Restaurants Struggle With Labor Shortage, Higher Costs | Nebraska

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(The Center Square) – The job market in Nebraska is tight and the restaurant industry in particular is struggling to find enough workers, said Zoe Olson, executive director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association in The Center Square.

“Nebraska’s unemployment rate is 2.2%, the lowest in the country,” Olson said. “We are out of people in the state and we still have the same number of jobs available across the landscape.”

In a September survey by the Restaurant Association, 90% of Nebraska operators said their restaurants currently lack sufficient employees to meet current customer demand.

For months, restaurants have reduced their hours and days of operation to deal with the shortage, Olson said.

“Over the July 4 and Labor Day weekend, some restaurants closed for several days just to give their staff time,” she said. “It’s an ongoing situation trying to figure out how to let employees have a certain quality of life so they don’t leave you.”

Food costs and labor costs are on the rise, according to the survey. Profits are down.

“Ninety-three percent of operators in Nebraska say their profit margin is lower than it was before the COVID-19 outbreak,” the association said. “None are saying their profit margin is higher.”

Some restaurants have closed in part due to understaffing, Olson said.

There was actually a labor shortage in Nebraska even before the COVID-19 pandemic which only worsened once the pandemic hit, Olson said.

Ultimately, the solution is immigration reform to allow more migrants to enter the country legally, she said.

“The birth rate in Nebraska and the rest of the United States is not high enough to support our workforce,” she said. “Until we get real immigration reform, we really don’t see a way out. work.”

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