RALEIGH, N.C. — According to the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, the leisure and hospitality sector accounted for 20% of job losses during the pandemic.
Now, with COVID-19 restrictions lifting, employers are scrambling to get workers back.
According to Visit Raleigh, around 66% of the 67,000 employees in the hospitality industry in the greater Raleigh area were let go in 2020 because of financial strain.
“Our industry took a pretty big hit during the pandemic,” said Dennis Edwards, CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Many of them went and found new jobs. There is still some hesitation for some, from a health and safety standpoint, they are a little reluctant to come back.”
Jane Broden is the hospitality instructor at Wake Tech Community College and has been there for 25 years. She think's many folks have displaced.
“Some of them are working at Home Depot, some of them are working at Target, some of them may still be getting unemployment,” Broden said. “I think we just need to just keep advertising, keep pushing it...that hospitality is a great place to work.”
“I think customers need to be very patient as we come back. There are some restaurants, hotels, event venues that are in lower staff right now as we try to catch up,” Broden said.
In an effort to help, the NCRLA has created a statewide job board. It allows people looking for hospitality jobs to search by where they live.
Employers are also offering incentives like early benefits, signing bonuses and free parking.
“For years people thought the hospitality sector was low-paying jobs,” Edwards said. “I think organically, many of our hotels and restaurants are finding that in order to compete, they have to increase salaries.”