Restaurants in the South struggle to hire workers while keeping costs down as customer demands returns

The South might be leading states in hiring—to the tune of 2.5 million jobs in August—but restaurants are still struggling with staffing, Alabama public radio station WBHM reports. Restaurant owners have sweetened job offers to prospective hires, in some cases boosting wages and forking over bonuses in a desperate plea to bulk up their staff. But such benefits do not extend to all. One restaurant owner in Jackson, Mississippi, who has managed to restore his team to over 100 employees (although most are part-time workers), raised wages by roughly 20 percent for his line cooks and food runners. Servers, however, were kept at the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13, under the argument they can make upwards of $60,000 with tips. Still, even if restaurant owners have found ways to keep costs low in one area, other expenses emerge. Food prices have soared compared to last year (if supplies are even available), and training new hires also eats at the bottom line. The Mississippi Restaurant and Hospitality Association predicts all these costs will soon translate to higher menu prices, meaning for anyone dining out, consider yourself—and your wallet—warned.

The Counter Stories by our editors.