Restaurants are beginning the new year with a recurring problem: labor shortages.
Chipotle said Thursday it’s looking to hire 15,000 people in North America to ensure its stores are staffed up ahead of its busy spring season. Other chains are also looking for workers: Taco Bell has more than 25,000 listings for crew members posted on its website, while Starbucks has posted more than 10,000 listings for baristas.
U.S. restaurants have added jobs for 24 consecutive months since the height of the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association. But restaurant employment is still 3.6% lower than before the pandemic, or the equivalent of 450,000 jobs.
In a November survey of its members, the association found that 62% of restaurant operators said they didn’t have enough employees to satisfy customer demand. Eighty-seven percent of operators said they will hire additional employees in the next year if they find qualified applicants, but 79% said they already have job openings that have been difficult to fill.