Restaurants still struggling with staffing as COVID-19 restrictions lifted

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama’s unemployment numbers are at their lowest since the pandemic began, but job openings in the food and beverage industry are at their highest, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

The labor department said food and beverage was the hardest hit industry when COVID-19 closures began. Now, with restrictions being lifted, many businesses are stretched thin, forced to make do with the little staff they have.

It’s an issue seen across Alabama, with “Now Hiring” signs polka dotted in front of businesses.

“I’ve had ads on Indeed, Facebook,” Dina Shunnarah, the owner of Rock ‘n Roll Sushi. “People just don’t want to come back to work because they’re still getting unemployment.”

Alabama’s pandemic unemployment compensation ends on June 19. Many managers and owners hope it’s the needed push to get people applying to jobs. Shunnarah said in the last ad she posted, only three people applied.

“A lot of the servers are tired,” she said. “They’ve had to work a lot. The kitchen crew has had to work a lot.”

She’s not alone in her frustrations, across the Colonnade parking lot is Black Market 280.

“It’s not even a matter of finding the right candidates,” said Rachael Moore the general manager at Black Market 280. “There’s no candidates.”

Black Market is staying at 75% capacity because they don’t have enough staff to wait on all the tables.

“It’s a lot, everyone has seen an influx in overtime, which, before, nobody ever got overtime here,” said Moore.

The state labor department said the openings outweigh the unemployed.

“There are more job openings than there are those counted as unemployed,” said Tara Hutchinson with the Department of Labor.

For resources provided by the state department of labor, click here.

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