Vast Majority of Michigan Restaurants and Hotels Operating Without Full Staffs, Study Says


According to the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA), about nine out of 10 restaurants and hotels are operating with too few employees. 

On June 22, state officials lifted COVID-related restrictions on restaurant capacity. The MRLA conducted a survey of hospitality establishments to determine the present state of the industry and found 88 percent of those who responded lack sufficient staff to meet consumer demand. 

Of Michigan’s bars and nightclubs, two-thirds responded to MRLA that they don’t have adequate staff, while 81 percent of quick-service restaurants and 89 percent of full-service restaurants said they don’t either. The situation is even worse for hotels, 97 percent of which report having too few employees. And every banquet facility surveyed indicated it has a staffing shortage.

“While Michiganians have proven eager to return to a life that includes ample travel and restaurant dining, it has become clear that the nature and speed of this return has placed enormous pressure on the industry and its supply chain,” MRLA President & CEO Justin Winslow said in a statement. “Restaurant and hotel operators are trying to meet consumer demand that exceeds 2019 with 100,000 fewer workers and skyrocketing labor and commodity prices. Workers are exhausted and profit margins are thin for many despite the resurgent demand.”

Many hotels and restaurants are now offering extra incentives to attract applicants. Owners of the Kalamazoo House bed and breakfast, for instance, reportedly pay above minimum wage to entry-level staffers, allow for flexible schedules, and give employees free breakfast. Some other western Michigan hotels, according to News Channel 3, pay their employees cash bonuses just for showing up to work on time.

Some servers attribute the staffing shortages to the federal government’s decision to pay hefty unemployment benefits well after the economy has regained robust economic growth. Many unemployed households now receive the equivalent of $25 per hour in jobless benefits. A survey conducted by Morning Consult last month found that about 13 percent of polled jobless Americans responded that a reason they had not found work was “I receive enough money from unemployment insurance without having to work.”

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Bradley Vasoli is a reporter at The Michigan Star and The Star News Network. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].



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