Local restaurant owners see worker shortage, as Covid restrictions loosen

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FILE – In this Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020 file photo, customers have lunch outside next to a table set up for proper social distancing inside a restaurant in New York. The city on Wednesday began allowing restaurants to offer indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. The U.S. services sector, where most Americans work, grew for a fourth straight month in September as the country continued to reopen following a spring shutdown. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – As New York State, slowly reopens and some local restaurants are seeing a worker shortage.

Jobs at foodservice and drinking establishments declined 33.5 percent from February 2020 to February 2021, from 655,600 jobs to 436,100, according to New York labor statistics.

This indicates a rather large number of out-of-work restaurant workers.

Kristi Mertsock, the owner of Curly’s Chicken, says she has been trying to get the word out that she is low on staff.

“Since we opened back up after we get out of the orange zone, we have been pretty busy. Sales have been really good, people have been coming out supporting us but we’re really short-staffed. I think the reason we’re short-staffed is people are getting unemployment. They rather stay home and collect that extra money from the government because they’re getting an extra $300 a week, and don’t want to go back to work,” said Mertsock.

“I think things have gotten a lot safer. We follow all the guidelines and all the rules. People are getting vaccines, customers are coming out by the handfuls. Business is really good, but employees do not want to come back to work if they can stay home and collect unemployment,” said Mertsock.

Mertsock says she has been in contact with other local restaurants that are seeing the same thing and are in need of cooks, waiters, and staff.

She says she has been promoting those job openings on Facebook in order to start the hiring process.

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