When the pandemic first hit, one of the industries most immediately affected was the restaurant industry. Many establishments closed for months, if not longer, sending the industry into a crisis. But now that industry is facing a different crisis: Diner foot traffic is almost a third higher than in pre-pandemic times, yet restaurants can’t find enough workers to serve customers.
According to data from the National Restaurant Association, the industry has a shortage of over 1 million workers compared to pre-pandemic times. Yet data from OpenTable shows dining is up 30% from pre-pandemic levels as of September and data from job site Indeed shows job postings in the food industries have increased by 39.9% since February 2020.
In order to help close the gap between job vacancies and applicants, Indeed and OpenTable have teamed up for a month-long hiring initiative to help restaurants get staffed up again. Called Interview Days: Restaurant Jobs, the initiative will run for the entire month of October and offer online tools to help restaurateurs find workers and interview them. An additional portal will be aimed at workers themselves to help them find restaurant jobs and prep them for hire.
Restaurants aren’t the only ones having trouble finding staff. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of July 2021, there were 0.8 unemployed persons for everyone one job opening—which means there aren’t enough workers to go around. As for why: That same month, an Indeed Hiring Lab Job Search Survey found that the reasons people were not urgently searching for new jobs included that they had a financial cushion (21%), their spouse was employed (18%), they had care responsibilities (17%), and fears over COVID-19 (17%).