Nebraska restaurants seeing the worst worker shortages in history

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SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (KCAU) — Whether it’s drive-through or sit down, restaurants across Siouxland have been forced into hanging help wanted signs from their window, hoping to find people hungry for work.

“It’s been crazy these past few months. We’ve been open for four years, and I think as of recently it’s been the worst with staffing issues not wanting to work.”

Nebraska restaurants are currently seeing the worst worker shortages in state history, the restaurant association says. The biggest issue these local eateries are seeing right now is having to cut back hours of operation.

“We’ve been down like 7 to 8 people. It caused us to close on Mondays. Right now we’re getting back up, but it just keeps going back and forth with people.”

But the question remains, why? Director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association Zoe Olson said a common misconception is that businesses are not paying their employees enough to keep them around.

Olson said, although that is an issue for the state of Nebraska, the real problem lies in the population numbers.

“In a normal economy, full employment is 5 to 5.2% unemployment. Nebraska’s most recent that I’ve heard is 2.2% which means, we have way more jobs than we have people. If you look at the Nebraska job site. We have 2 to 3 times the number of jobs on that website as we have people looking for jobs.”

Restaurant owner Alex Robles is still trying to keep more people from walking out, by increasing wages, something director Olsen said almost 90% of Nebraska restaurants are currently doing.

“There’s been people that have wanted to leave. We’ve raised some wages here and there to help.”

Restaurant owner Veronica Limon said they don’t have the means to do that. Instead, she’s left picking up the shifts of others.

“I either stay 12 to 14 hours a day or sometimes even more.”

Olsen said experts project the shortage to ease during next summer but nothing is promised.

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