Seattle restaurants struggle to hire staff as economy bounces back

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Despite a starting salary of $ 18 an hour, health benefits, and paid time off, Dick’s drive-in is still struggling to hire employees.

SEATTLE – Call for help signs are popping up in restaurants and businesses across West Washington – a sign that the economy is picking up faster than some are ready to get back to work.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Labor reported that there are 10.9 million job vacancies nationwide, the highest number in more than 20 years.

Now, restaurants in Seattle are struggling to recruit amid the nationwide labor shortage.

With Dick’s drive-thru restaurants offering takeout only and glass partitions between customers and employees, they may have inadvertently been among the best prepared for the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were very blessed that we didn’t have to take anyone off leave, we didn’t have to cut any jobs,” said Jasmine Donovan, president of Dick’s Drive-In.

However, the high demand for labor is making the company feel the effects of the pandemic.

Despite a starting wage of $ 18 an hour and many other benefits, including health care and paid time off, Donavan says her family’s business cannot find applicants.

“There aren’t that many people willing to go back to work as we have vacancies as business patterns change,” said Donavan.

“They know we were under staffing and it was tough for the crew, but we’re making sure it works as well as possible – but it would be great to add more people to our team,” said Brionna Osgood, a manager at Dick’s Drive-In’s Wallingford location.

A team that remains understaffed for the time being.

“My employees are exhausted from all of this, but they are doing a great job and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Donovan.

All over Ballard, signs for help seekers are easy to spot in shop windows as some stores operate at reduced hours and others close without the required staff.

According to NBC News, teens could fill some of the labor shortage. More than 32% of young people had a holiday job this year – the highest figure since 2008.