YORK COUNTY, Pa. — As COVID-19 restrictions ease across the nation, "Help Wanted" signs are becoming more common.
According to new data from the Department of Labor, the restaurant industry has nearly one million fewer workers than in Feb. 2020.
In York County, restaurant owner Sean Arnold said it's a struggle to find new hires. He is the owner of The Left Bank Restaurant in York.
"Sometimes it's crickets," he said. "Sometimes we put an application out and we get nothing."
Candidates who are receiving a minimum of $15 an hour in other sectors may be partly to blame for the shortage.
"Some people are going to $18 an hour," he said. "We can't compete with that. If we decide to compete with that we might as well shut our doors."
Experts say other reasons for the shortage include fear of the pandemic, parents receiving the Advanced Child Tax Credit, and increased SNAP benefits that may be encouraging people to stay home.
To retain workers, Arnold offers his staff multiple days off, a $15 base minimum wage and creative control.
"We give freedom to cooks to express themselves, being that it's a creative thing," Arnold said. "I think that helps keep our staff."
To find the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest numbers, you can click here.