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McDonald's hiring sign Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Half of U.S. Hospitality Workers Won’t Return in Job Crunch

A survey of 13,000 job seekers found former hospitality employees wanted high pay, a less physically demanding workplace and better benefits.

(Bloomberg)—More than half of U.S. hospitality workers wouldn’t go back to their old jobs and over a third aren’t even considering reentering the industry, according to a survey that underscores hiring challenges for restaurants, bars and hotels.

No pay increase or incentive would make these workers return to their previous workplace, according to a poll of about 13,000 job seekers during the second quarter from Joblist, an employment-search engine. These former hospitality employees cited wanting higher pay, a less physically demanding workplace and better benefits, the survey finds.

Unpopular Jobs

The results show the extent of the unpopularity of the industry as the economy reopens in fits and starts. The elevated number of unfilled job openings in the country -- many of them in the service sector -- point to an inability to meet surging demand from consumers, threatening to slow the overall recovery.

“The obvious implication is that if firms can’t expand as planned, the outlook for growth will be weaker,” said James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, in a note to clients.

Other data point to the sector’s struggles: the Institute for Supply Management’s June services index slowed from a record in May, largely due to a contraction in the employment measure.

A separate monthly survey from the Labor Department on Wednesday found that job openings climbed to a record in May, indicating employers were struggling to fill spots. The number of people who voluntarily left their jobs declined, but remained among the highest on record at 3.6 million.

The accommodation and food-service industry was among the sectors with the highest number of open positions, along with health care and education, the data show.

While some factors keeping people away from the labor market may ease in coming months, including childcare struggles and the expiry of emergency unemployment benefits, other changes could take months or years to work out. Those include a mismatch of skills and locations between employers’ needs and the unemployed, early retirement and lower seasonal migration, according to Capital Economics, which forecasts that labor shortages will persist into next year.

“Widespread signs of labour shortages are real and reflect longer-lasting factors,” Capital Economics senior U.S. economist Michael Pearce said in a research note. “While we are confident all three will ultimately be reversed, that could take many years.”

Across the U.S., the leisure and hospitality industry is still down 2.2 million jobs from February, a big chunk of the roughly 6.7 million missing jobs across occupations. That’s despite businesses largely reopening and employers saying they’re desperate for workers.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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