DURHAM N.C. (WNCN) – Right now, there are 38,000 hospitality jobs open across North Carolina, according to the state’s Restaurant and Lodging Association.
“Business is coming back. People are really eager to eat out and travel again but we’re really struggling to hire workers,” said Lynn Minges, CEO and president of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Minges said that number does not account for businesses that are newly built or looking to expand soon.
“The fact that we’re nearly 40,000 workers down right now means that we likely need many more workers than that to fill the job vacancies that currently exist in the industry,” Minges said.
Tuesday, Discover Durham, the Durham Convention Center and the Durham Workforce Development Board hosted 37 businesses looking to fill qualified positions in restaurants, hotels, and attractions.
“I don’t know a hospitality business that doesn’t have job openings right now,” Discover Durham CEO and president Susan Amey said.
The owner of Indulge Catering, Queen Precious-Jewel Zabriskie said the pandemic stopped 95 percent of her business initially, but even with what has come back, it’s a shortage of staff that only made it harder to rebound.
“Staffing wise we need people for prep, we need cooks, we need drivers,” Zabriskie said. “But also a shortage in people just coming to us wanting to work right now. So we are increasing our wages.”
Amey hopes that more people will be looking for hospitality jobs once federal COVID-19 unemployment assistance ends Sept. 4.
“This would be a great time to get those people who were just waiting for the federal stimulus money to run out to come back into the workforce,” Amey said. “What we don’t know is how many are out because of that, how many are because of day care or school situations or they’re concerned about being on the front lines of a virus that’s coming back.”