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Too many jobs, not enough workers

In part two of a special series, we examine local labor shortages that have left restaurant managers struggling to fill entry-level positions.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — You may have walked into a local fast food restaurant and found its lobby closed for the day. More than likely, the reason has to do with the lack of workers.

In part two of a special series titled “Help Needed,” 3News dives into the changing workforce, specifically how the pandemic has had a lasting impact on the workforce.

The president of the Coastal Bend Restaurant Association calls it one of the toughest times for businesses trying to recover.

Workers simply did not return, leaving managers struggling to fill entry-level positions.

We even saw a number of restaurants that simply couldn’t survive and had to close due to the pandemic.

At Good N Crisp Chicken on Padre Island, Liberty Golay feels the heat. The fast food manager found herself spending more time at work than at home.

“I have over 160 hours per pay period. I’m here between seven in the morning and 11 at night,” Golay said.

She doesn’t see it slowing down anytime soon, and hectic conditions mean Golay is in desperate need of workers.

“Help Wanted” signs have remained posted outside the restaurant since the pandemic.

“I can’t get people to come in and apply,” Golay said.

She said there was little interest and some workers she hired don’t last because they wanted better paying jobs.

“Those who arrived, started and moved on, it’s the younger generation who are starting their families,” Golay said. “So they’re kind of entering the workforce for the first time and realizing ‘I can go try this or that’ and want something a little bit better than the food industry, that’s what everyone thinks.”

This company is not the only one struggling to find good workers. Over the past month, 700 jobs have been added to the leisure and hospitality industry right here in the region.

“Workers definitely haven’t returned and that’s for every part of our industry,” said Glen Mier, president of the Coastal Bend Restaurant Association.

Mier also owns the Angry Marlin, one of two restaurants he runs on the island. He said too many job vacancies and not enough workers had employers competing for staff.

“I think we can all try to guess or theorize why the workforce has changed. The reality is that it just has.” Mier said.

So what is the solution ?

“Personally, I had to create incentives, hiring bonuses, ways to try to get people to come in and do an interview,” Mier said. “But the reality is to look at your business and try to assess where you can motivate people who have been employed to stay and not just money but a good work environment.”

According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the labor crisis is slowing the country’s economic recovery.

In a November 2021 poll – of 529 people, more than one in ten (13%) quit multiple jobs during the pandemic.

A hiring bonus of $1,000 remains the main incentive to hire more people.

Meanwhile, Golay is currently losing five front-end positions and a cook.

She also does what she can to fill in the gaps, even recruiting her family to lend a hand, but it has taken its toll.

“There are times when we’ve had to close the lobby because I don’t have the staff to run the lobby and the drive-thru,” Golay said.

It has also resulted, at times, in a limited menu that includes his famous pots.

“I have several people who aren’t very happy about it. Our pots are amazing,” Golay said.

She hopes things will get better. His goal is to fill vacancies in the summer rush and recruit part-time students who will be away for summer vacation, giving him a well-deserved day off.

Mier said one of the ways the restaurant association is working to address these labor shortages is through government.

Recently, the organization sent one of its members to Washington DC to help pass new legislation called the “Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act” to have extended visas for people to come and work in the United States. .

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