July 31, 2023



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Severe Teen Shortage Hits Restaurants as Summer Hiring Crisis Reaches 12-Year Low

As the summer hiring market heats up, the existing labor shortage faced by North American restaurant businesses may become even more severe. They may find themselves lacking a crucial group to fill job vacancies - teenage employees.

According to CNBC, in the post-pandemic labor market, employers are facing challenges in finding enough workers to fill vacant positions, especially in the restaurant industry.

Although a significant number of job openings are expected this year, the number of job seekers is far from meeting the demand.

Particularly with the arrival of the summer hiring market, many restaurants that rely on teenage labor have encountered new demands from this demographic during their job search. All of this reflects the complexity and challenges of the current labor market.

01.Challenges in the Summer Hiring Market

With the booming summer hiring market, many small and seasonal businesses are struggling to secure the teenage workforce they urgently need.

According to the recruiting company Challenger Gray, it is forecasted that 1.1 million teenagers will apply for new jobs in 2023, a number that has declined from last year and is the lowest in 12 years since 2011.

02 Severe Hiring Shortage in the Restaurant Industry

After the pandemic, there has been a shift in labor supply and demand, and employers often find it difficult to locate enough staff to fill open positions.

The restaurant industry is among the sectors most acutely affected by the labor shortage issue.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry is expected to add 500,000 jobs by the end of this year. However, for every two vacant positions, there is only one job seeker, intensifying the competition for labor.

This might result in reduced available workforce for restaurants like Grotto Pizza, which heavily relies on teenage employees.

According to Glenn Byrum, a hiring manager at Grotto, teenage employees make up nearly one-third of the total workforce across their 20 stores in Delaware and Maryland. Despite ongoing recruitment efforts, they are still unable to maintain a sufficient workforce.

Byrum emphasized, "Teenage employees are a key part of our success." He added that young employees and those with J-1 visas help provide service in seasonal stores at the beach.

He explained, "Teenage recruitment is always a process. They seem to place more emphasis on the flexibility of the job, how much they will earn, and the work environment itself."

Byrum described a common mindset he observes among young employees. He said, "If they don't like what the employer is asking them to do, even if it's part of the job, they can easily go somewhere else down the street and find the same or possibly better-paying alternative work. So, it keeps us on our toes to make sure we're providing the best work environment."

03 Teen Employee Hourly Wages Reach $25

Byrum revealed that Grotto typically offers teenage employees wages higher than the minimum wage, and incentives for employees who support different stores during fluctuations in seasonal demand.

Lexi Mathis, a 16-year-old, was transferred to work at Grotto's beachside store during the summer and received a raise. She mentioned that the company provides flexible working hours, and the extra pay helps her deal with commuting costs driven by inflation.

Makiah Grindstaff has been working at the Famous Toastery bakery in Davidson, North Carolina, for over two years. The high school student has been saving for several goals and said that depending on her position and peak business hours at the restaurant, her hourly wage can reach $25.

For teenagers like her, this is a significant income.

04 New Proposal May Change the Landscape

Last week's proposal, titled the "2023 Wage Increase Act," might have comprehensive implications for the restaurant industry. This marks the second proposal to increase the minimum wage for restaurant workers in less than a month. In early June, the New York government received a proposal to raise the minimum wage for delivery personnel to nearly $20 per hour.

The new proposal aims to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour (a standard that has remained unchanged since 2009) to $17 per hour by 2028.

If the bill is passed and ultimately reaches the White House, it will be implemented starting in the third month after the bill becomes effective.

If this proposal goes into effect, it is likely to attract more teenagers and labor into the restaurant industry. However, it will also bring added pressure to restaurant owners!

Restaurant owners, get ready to face new challenges!