Mississippi restaurants continue to face staffing shortages

Pine Belt

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Restaurants are still dealing with a shortage of workers, but some are finding opportunities to recruit more in Mississippi.

In Downtown Hattiesburg, Restaurant Week will begin on October 2, 2021. Marlo Dorsey, the executive director of Visit Hattiesburg, believes Restaurant Week will help attract workers.

“We know we’re dealing with a lot of staffing shortages in places, but we can’t say enough great things about our hospitality workforce and just the fortitude of all of many local restaurant owners who are doing whatever takes to present good food and a good time in the Hub City,” Dorsey stated.

In July 2021, the National Restaurant Association reported they’ve seen an increase of 1.3 million jobs. Despite the increase, there’s still some employment levels that are below pre-pandemic levels.

Pat Fontaine, the executive director of the Mississippi Restaurant Association, said the restaurant business is seeing some changes on both sides.

“The wage issue. There’s still a concern of the fear of contracting COVD. There’s still a lot of federally subsidized programs out there that people are receiving benefits from that enable them to remain at home and not work,” Fontaine explained.

Fontaine said there are many reasons for the staffing shortages.

“Saw where President Biden is trying to implement a mandatory vaccination or negative testing policy for employers that have 100 or more employees. For some people, that will attract some, and it may deter others.”

To assist with recruiting this year, more than 40 restaurants are expected to participate in Hattiesburg’s Restaurant Week.

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