Great Resignation accelerates for restaurants, hotels

Hospitality employees quit in greater numbers last month than they did in January, according to federal statistics.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurants and hotels saw more of their workforce quit in February than employers did in virtually every other type of U.S. business, with 6% of the hospitality industry’s total labor force walking off the job, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In all, 795,000 foodservice and lodging workers voluntarily left their positions, an acceleration from the quit tallies of 782,000 in January and 776,000 in December, the figures show. February is also two days shorter than any other month. The numbers were adjusted to negate seasonal fluctuations.

Across all industries, the quit rate was 2.9%, with 4.4 million workers resigning. 

The BLS did not reveal how many of the departing hospitality employees took other jobs in the field. But it did report that foodservice and lodging facilities hired a total of just over 1 million workers during the month, a dip from the 1.03 million who accepted a hospitality position in January.

Every gauge provided by the BLS in its monthly report show the labor situation worsening for what the agency technically labels “accommodations and food services.” The business ended the month with about 1.4 million job vacancies, or about double the openings of a year ago in preliminary, seasonally unadjusted terms. All told, just under 10% of the industry’s jobs remained unfilled.

The closest open rate was for the healthcare industry, at 8.8%.  

The figures suggest that retaining employees remains a critical issue for the nation’s restaurants and hotels. Many operators have trimmed their hours and days of operations because they can’t hire fast enough to staff every shift. Filling late-night or overnight hours has proven particularly difficult.

Many say they’re also delaying restaurant openings because of staffing problems and the inability to line up builders, who are similarly suffering from a worker shortage.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is 3.9%, according to the BLS.

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