Worker shortage could turn fast food into drive-only drive-thru
The labor shortage caused by the COVID-19[female[feminine The government’s pandemic and freewheeling stimulus money could change the fast food industry forever.
Restaurants across America, since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, have struggled to find workers as job seekers have a record 11 million jobs to choose from.
Employment in food services and drinking places was little changed for a second consecutive month in September after recording an average monthly gain of 197,000 from January to July, according to the Department of Labor’s payroll report non-agricultural released Friday. The industry has nearly a million fewer workers than in February 2020.
The labor shortage is creating a “domino effect” across the industry, Kevin Bazner, CEO of A&W Restaurants, told FOX Business. “No manager, so you lose staff next door and before you know it you can’t open a restaurant.”
There are many reasons for the labor shortage.
Some workers are reluctant to return to work due to fears related to COVID-19. In addition, government policies such as the child tax credit and increased SNAP benefits can encourage people to stay at home. Others, until recently, received $ 300 per week in additional unemployment benefits. In total, people have $ 400 billion more in savings than before the pandemic thanks to all government programs.
âThese programs often discourage work,â said Andy Puzder, former CEO of CKE Restaurants Holdings, which is the parent company of restaurant chains including Carl’s Jr. and Hardees. “And if you discourage work, you are really discouraging a younger generation from getting the self-respect and dignity that comes with work.”
He said business owners he spoke to say the work ethic has been damaged by the pandemic. Fast food outlets offer up to $ 19 an hour and still can’t find workers. When they do, young workers say they don’t want to work full time, nights or weekends.
Bazner said many A&W restaurants are operating at 60% to 70% of pre-pandemic levels. This has led many restaurants to switch to a drive-thru-only model because there isn’t enough help cleaning dining rooms and washrooms.
The change was a “godsend,” according to Bazner, who said A&W was seeing same-store sales increase among teens compared to 2019.
Restaurant owners also struggle with higher costs along the supply chain. Soaring energy costs and labor issues are driving up transportation costs while prices for beef, pork and other commodities are significantly higher.
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If current government policies remain in place and labor remains hard to find, drive-thru may be the only part of fast food that survives, according to Puzder.
“It’s cheaper – in terms of manpower – to run a drive-thru business, so you can be more profitable, âhe said. âI think people will look for these kinds of alternatives if they don’t have the workforce.