There are a few reasons for this drop in the restaurant workforce. Primarily, though, the strong economy has pushed people towards jobs that are often perceived as more permanent and better-paying. There's also a consistent year-over-year increase of Bachelor's degree recipients in the country, putting workers on different paths.
This leaves employers scrambling to find help all year long. No wonder 59% of restaurateurs name staffing a top challenge in 2018.
The amount of restaurants that would employee these teens has not similarly decreased, but rather increased, according to the New York Times with the Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Whatever happened to the days of teens lining up to run the drive-through? BLS projects teen workforce numbers will continue to decline well into the next decade.
3. College Students Are Spending Their Summer on Internships
An increased emphasis on the need for academic internships has college students suiting up for the summer instead of serving diners. While many students pursue an internship during the academic year, employers are expecting candidates to come in with multiple internships – 65% want candidates to have two or more by the time they graduate.
With only so much time during the semester, many students decide to find this professional work during the summertime, robbing restaurants of the opportunity to employ students home for the summer.
4. A Shortage of Visas is Impacting Immigrant Workers
H-2B visas, according to the USCIS, are visas for temporary, agricultural workers. Visit the USCIS website for more information on the purpose of these visas and accurate information.
Earlier this year, Congress capped the number of H-2B visas to 66,000 for the entire year through a lottery system, limiting the amount of non-citizens legally allowed to provide work for restaurants during these summer months.
Many restaurants taking the hit from this decision are seasonal restaurants, like those on Cape Cod summer haven Martha's Vineyard. These restaurants may not have the permanent, year-round staff to support the influx of summer diners, and without visa recipients, these restaurants will have to find workers elsewhere, as their usual workforce is no longer guaranteed entry into the country.
The silver lining? "On May 31, 2018, the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor published a temporary final rule (PDF) increasing the numerical limit ('cap') on H-2B nonimmigrant visas by up to 15,000 additional visas through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2018," according to the USCIS website. The increase was for "American businesses which, among other things, attest that they will likely suffer irreparable harm without the ability to employ all the H-2B workers requested in their petition."
5. There Are Just Too Many Restaurants to Choose From
Normally, 13 million people willing to work in just one industry would be a good thing – but not for restaurants.
There are over one million restaurant locations in the country, meaning that there are only 13 employees per restaurant on average. For large, high-volume restaurants, that number is rarely enough.
Fact is, even without the labor shortage, the sheer number of restaurants to work in has ignited the restaurant industry's war for talent. Restaurant workers have so many options, so it should be clear why restaurants are feeling the pains of the tight labor market this summer.
Surviving This Summer's Restaurant Labor Shortage
Gear up for a long summer, but don't worry; with a positive restaurant culture, you'll be able to hire, attract, and retain restaurant employees.
If you're staffing up for the summer, try a few of these resources as you navigate the restaurant labor shortage:
DISCLAIMER: All of the information contained on this site (the “Content”) is provided for informational
purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal, accounting, tax, career or other professional
advice. The Content is provided “as-is” without any warranty of any kind express or implied, including
limitation any warranty as to the accuracy, quality, timeliness, or completeness of the Content, or fitness
for a particular purpose; Toast assumes no liability for your use of, or reference to the Content. By
accessing this site, you acknowledge and agree that: (a) there may be delays in updating, omissions, or
inaccuracies in the Content, (b) the Content should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for
consultation with professional legal advisors, (c) you should not perform any act or make any omission on
basis of any Content without first seeking appropriate legal or professional advice on the particular facts
circumstances at issue and (d) you are solely responsible for your compliance with all applicable laws. If
do not agree with these terms you may not access or use the site or Content.