SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Judy Ouzts has been in the restaurant business for at last three decades and these days she spends most of her time posting jobs. The owner of Papa’s Bar-b-que on Whitemarsh Island says first, the pandemic took away customers. Now the customers are back but she doesn’t have enough staff.
“We absolutely have zero applicants walking in the door,” says Ouzts.
She says when businesses began resuming the shortage of restaurant workers quickly became apparent. She raised salaries but it isn’t enough to complete with places that are willing to keep paying more
“Some are offering outrageous incentives to get people to come and to stay and a ‘Mom and Pop’ place like us just can’t compete with bigger places,” said Ouzts.
Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler says there is a labor shortage, one he says is serious.
“A lot of times when people talk about employers they’re thinking the big chain you know, the big corporation, but I’m more concerned right now about the smaller places ultimately staying afloat.
Butler says the state will stop paying extra federal pandemic benefits as of June 26 as an incentive for those now employed to apply for jobs.
We’ll be much better off if people are back to work,” said Butler who told us that a labor shortage may continue for several years if not solved now. He expects when the unemployment payments go lower that more people will apply for jobs.
There are many factors to the worker shortage and state leaders are going against Georgia’s two democratic senators John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock who voted for the American Rescue Plan.
Advocates say that Georgia is at full employment with an unemployment rate of about 4.5 percent. They also indicate that continued issues of childcare, elder care and transportation which all affect low income people, are still problems that the pandemic only exposed and made worse in some ways.
“There are a lot of factors s involved it’s not just one,” said Ouzts. “But I think the higher unemployment payments are one of the biggest factors. I understand that’s going away June 26, yeah.”
Ouzts says they’re working to come back but have cut hours and are closed a couple of days a week.
“The staff that I have are maxed out and this is it until we get somebody new and trained,” she said.