SHREVEPORT, La. - Many of the so-called experts were predicting a hiring boom in April. But that boom turned into a bust with a measly 266,000 jobs added, causing unemployment to actually tick upward to 6.1 percent.

Restaurants are dealing with a massive shortage of people who don't want to go back to work and that keeps owners struggling with what to do next. It's created a tough situation -- plenty of customers, very few workers.

Many of the people doing the hiring saying they can't compete with stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits from the federal government. In the short term, it's resulting in lots of overtime and, in some cases, higher wages for those who are working in restaurants. But the future of running a restaurant could look very different.

"We've been super busy and some of the highest volume we've ever had at our restaurant and this is the shortest staff I've ever been. Nobody is applying. We've been adjusting our pay rate, giving people a little bit of pay raises that we do have to make sure we can assure they stay with us. We'll make it bounce back and people will eventually start going back to work, and maybe stop getting so many stimulus checks and everybody will be able to get back to work," said Jeremy Shows, Frank's Pizza Napoletna general manager.

"I believe the hospitality and restaurants industry in general are probably going to go to technology and leverage technology in the future. You may see your full service restaurants doing waiters via tablets. In our restaurants, we've leveraged kiosks in some of our new builds. You see that in the grocery stores, do your own checkouts. We prefer to leverage, not eliminate the jobs, but to shift the jobs into the kitchen. And allow us to take care of guests in a little different way," said Craig Cabala, Wendy's area operations director.

As for the $300 federal supplement to unemployment benefits, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told his division of workforce services to end Arkansas' participation on June 26. Hutchinson said the supplement served its purpose during the pandemic, but now Arkansans need to get back to work.

Montana and South Carolina have already opted out of the federal program.


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