TAMPA, Fla. - There's a significant worker shortage right now as the Tampa Bay area and the rest of the country try and rebound from the yearlong pandemic. Some employers are slashing hours, service can be slow, and that economic recovery is facing what appears to be, at the very least, a bump in the road.
"I think it is very concerning. I think consumers and our industry are all concerned," said Danette Lynch, Hillsborough chapter director for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. "Any of our local restaurants and hotel and attractions are really looking right now to hire, whether it's seasonal or full-time."
The causes of the shortage, experts say, are multi-faceted: COVID career changes, higher unemployment benefits making working seem less attractive, child care needs, and overall uncertainty.
It all makes solving the puzzle that much harder.
"Go back to work and be patient. That’s my message," Lynch said.
"I don’t think the continuation of the vaccine is going to have that much effect. I think we need to get very creative to find new pockets of people to come into the industry," said Roger Curlin, the co-founder of the Pinellas Independent Hospitality Forum.
Curlin points out many restaurant managers are leaving "money on the table" because they don't have enough bodies.
"I heard people making $2,000 a week (as a server). That's lot of money to make right now," he said.
In a state where tourism is king, getting this worker shortage under control will be a critical issue.
"We can’t just sit around and hope it fixes itself," Curlin added. "We need to be proactive."