Stories From the Great American Labor Shortage

Stories From the Great American Labor Shortage


Produced by Asthaa Chaturvedi, Lynsea Garrison, Robert Jimison, Luke Vander Ploeg, Diana Nguyen and Clare Toeniskoetter

With Sydney Harper, Michael Simon Johnson and Alexandra Leigh Young

Edited by Lisa Chow

Original music by Dan Powell

Engineered by Chris Wood

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This episode contains strong language.

Bartenders, sous chefs, wait staff — at the moment, managers in the U.S. hospitality industry are struggling to fill a range of roles at their establishments.

One owner of a gourmet burger restaurant in Houston said that before the pandemic a job opening could easily get 100 applicants. Now, she might get one or two. “I had never seen it like this before in my career,” she told us. “I’ve been doing this for over 25 years.”

These managers blame pandemic unemployment benefits for the dearth of talent. Employees say that the pandemic has opened their eyes to the realities of work.

We spoke to workers and managers about why it has become so hard for the hospitality industry to get staff back through their doors.

Background reading

Why is it so hard to hire right now? Experts weigh in on what’s going on in the labor market — and what companies can do to attract workers.

The sharp rebound in hiring, especially in service industries, is widening opportunities and prompting employers to compete on pay.

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Transcripts of each episode are available by the next workday. You can find them at the top of the page.

Special thanks to Vivian Rusk, Ben Casselman, Patti Cohen, Neil Irwin, Jeanna Smialek, Sarah Maslin Nir, Sydney Ember and Sapna Maheshwari.

The Daily is made by Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Annie Brown, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Wendy Dorr, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Austin Mitchell, Neena Pathak, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guillemette, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Kaitlin Roberts, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Soraya Shockley, Corey Schreppel, Anita Badejo and Rob Szypko.

Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Theo Balcomb, Cliff Levy, Lauren Jackson, Julia Simon, Mahima Chablani, Nora Keller, Sofia Milan, Desiree Ibekwe, Erica Futterman and Wendy Dorr.

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