Foods & Culinary

Ending federal unemployment benefits will not solve the restaurant industry’s recruitment crisis

Tuesday 18th May Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that as of June, Texas workers will no longer be eligible for federal pandemic unemployment benefits$ 300 a week out of the pockets of people still grappling with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move comes as Restaurant owners across the state and across the country complain of the inability to man their facilities. Abbott’s decision to end the $ 300 weekly bonus payments is intended to encourage people to get back to work, according to the governor. “The Texan economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities across the state,” Abbott said in a statement. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of vacancies in Texas is almost the same as the number of Texans receiving unemployment benefits.”

The move isn’t surprising. 21 other states, including Montana and Alabama, have announced similar plans in the past few weeks. Abbott’s decision to block access to services, most of which are funded by Texas taxpayers, has been endorsed by countless business owners and lobby groups. This includes the Texas Restaurant Association, which represents restaurant owners who have a legitimate financial interest in pushing people back to work.

This has been a subject of intense debate throughout the pandemic. As early as June 2020, the Republican heads of state and government pushed for an end to federal unemployment benefits. In the first pandemic aid bill, The federal unemployment allowance was $ 600 per week. That was later lowered to $ 300 a week as states like Texas eased COVID-19 restrictions and allowed businesses to reopen.

It is clear that the federal government’s additional unemployment benefits had a significant impact on keeping restaurant workers – Millions of them have lost their jobs – Afloat in the depths of the pandemic. What is less clear, however, is whether eliminating the benefits that people survived the past year will actually get them back to work in restaurants.

Restaurant workers had an absolutely brutal 2020. Even when they were working, those jobs came with some pretty extreme risks Contract with COVID-19 virus to potentially be attacked by customers who refused to wear masks. As a result, many workers who had worked in the hospitality industry for years decided to look elsewhere. Some used their forced free time in 2020 to go back to school, while others opted for the stability and wage consistency of a 9-to-5. Many restaurant workers took jobs on Amazonwhere the minimum wage is $ 15 an hour. In contrast, the average hourly wage for a restaurant clerk in Texas is just under $ 11, according to Indeed.

Amazon may not offer much in terms of improved working conditions, but wages are proven to be higher than many restaurant jobs, especially for back-of-house workers such as line cooks and dishwashers. A Job offer For a “cook / cashier” at Greenville Avenue restaurant, Truck Yard is offering $ 10 an hour for a role of grill cooking, room cleaning, and customer interaction. Another restaurant is looking for a morning dishwasher for four hours a day that pays for $ 11 an hour.

While $ 10 an hour is more than the federal minimum wage, anyone who has lived in Dallas for more than five minutes knows that it is nearly impossible to make ends meet on this pay. Because of this, most people in the service industry before the pandemic worked more than one job, hoping to raise enough money to pay the rent and afford childcare.

If restaurants expect to continue paying poverty wages, they should also expect that it will be impossible to hire and retain workers. When people drop out of the federal unemployment program, some may take these low-paying positions out of necessity – sometimes you have to take a bad job to stay afloat for a while. But as soon as something better happens – and it will, restaurants are closing everywhere – these workers will leave. This means that the restaurant that refuses to raise its wages and even less offers other benefits like affordable health care and paid time off will forever be in search of good help in this cycle.

However, some employers choose to meet their demand for workers the only way that can resolve this crisis: pay higher wages. Uptown bar is the standard pour Currently hiring Cooks cost $ 17 an hour plus the potential for overtime. Beloved BBQ spot is Cattleack’s offer $ 15 an hour for dishwasher and medical services. Many restaurants, such as the Saltgrass steakhouse chain, offer “Signing Bonuses” for employees who are hired and remain in their positions for 90 days.

It’s theoretically possible that Abbott’s move to end federal unemployment benefits will bring some people back to work in the restaurant industry – but the data doesn’t seem to confirm this. A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in March 2021 found this Overall, the federal benefit has not reduced employment. And judging by the number of restaurants that have advertised pay that is significantly higher than any compensation they have ever offered before, it’s clear that at least some restaurants get the message: If you pay them, they will come.

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