Rarely have so many Philadelphia-area restaurants — from high-end, high-volume spots to low-key corner bars — been seeking workers all at once. Help-wanted signs are ubiquitous and, in a move toward transparency, job postings increasingly include the hourly rates workers can expect.
To entice more applicants, some employers are offering signing bonuses. Others are bumping up wages and adding automatic gratuity to customers’ checks. Less common are businesses openly touting health insurance and other benefits.
Still, the shortage doesn’t seem to be shifting.
The easiest explanation, one cited by some owners in the industry and many spectators on the sidelines, is that continued unemployment benefits discourage workers from returning. But others are quick to point to the industry’s long-standing drawbacks — low wages, long hours, a lack of benefits — as causes of or contributing factors to the shortage.
To get a better understanding, The Inquirer is asking restaurant workers to share their take on this complex situation. What’s factoring into the labor shortage, and what would motivate workers to come back? We invite industry workers to fill out our survey.