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COVID & Unemployment

As restaurants and bars reopen, some find workers are scarce

Samantha Fields Mar 19, 2021
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Despite new hiring, the restaurant industry has a long way to go, says Erica Groshen, a senior economic adviser at Cornell University. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
COVID & Unemployment

As restaurants and bars reopen, some find workers are scarce

Samantha Fields Mar 19, 2021
Heard on:
Despite new hiring, the restaurant industry has a long way to go, says Erica Groshen, a senior economic adviser at Cornell University. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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The weather is warming up in parts of the country, and more and more people are getting vaccinated, and maybe feeling more comfortable going out.  

Bars and restaurants added nearly 300,000 jobs in February, and there are signs that’s continuing.

In Austin, Texas, Italian restaurant L’Oca d’Oro is finally getting ready to reopen soon for outdoor dining.

Co-owner Adam Orman said he’s trying to hire about 30% more staff.

“We need service staff. We need line cooks. We need a sous chef,” he said. And so do most of the restaurants he knows. In fact, Orman said, there are so many restaurant jobs open now that he’s having trouble finding people.

“We guarantee a living wage, we provide health benefits, we provide paid time off. And it’s still really difficult to attract folks.”

Even with all this new hiring, Erica Groshen, a senior economic adviser at Cornell University, said the restaurant industry has a long way to go.

“We’re still down quite a few jobs. But there’s certainly more grounds for optimism than several months ago,” Groshen said.

Whether the hiring continues, she said, will depend on what happens next with the virus.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do vaccines mean for economic recovery?

COVID-19 is not going anywhere anytime soon, according to expert witnesses who testified at a recent hearing held by the Joint Economic Committee. Put simply, we can’t eradicate the virus because it infects other species, and there will also be folks who choose not to get the vaccine or don’t mount an immune response, according to Dr. Céline Gounder at NYU School of Medicine & Bellevue Hospital. “That means we can’t only rely on vaccination,” Gounder said. She said the four phases of recovering from the pandemic are ending the emergency, relaxing mitigation measures, getting to herd immunity and having long-term control.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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