Austin restaurants having trouble finding, keeping employees

Austin restaurant managers and owners are struggling to find enough servers and cooks.

Austin is full of places to go out to eat.

But if you notice it's taking a little longer to get your drink or meal, it's because staffing is tight.

Restaurant managers and owners are struggling to find enough servers and cooks.

"The biggest crisis we're facing right now is hiring," said Deborah Donovan, General Manager at The Frisco.

"We have never seen, my partners and I, in all our years in the business, a labor market this tight," said Jeff Haber, co-owner of J.T. Youngbloods.

Thursday, Haber was expediting food in the kitchen.

"That's because one of our staff called out this morning," Haber said.

The restaurant is 8-weeks-old and the owners planned to be open for dinners every night, but they couldn't find enough workers to fill the spots.

Across town on Burnet Road, Donovan is having the same problem.

"For the last probably eight, 10 months we've been looking for three servers and two cooks," she said. "They are just not out there."

Why is it so difficult to fill these positions?

Concordia University Adjunct Economics Professor Michael Rondini told KVUE that Austin's low unemployment rate, about 3.6 percent, could be to blame.

When the unemployment rate dips below 4 percent, that means, pretty much, everyone who wants a job has one. So, there's simply no one to take the open jobs.

"Three years ago, if you put in a help wanted ad you were crawling with people who wanted to work and now that's just not the case," Donovan said.

The city's unemployment rate is slightly ticking back up. The most recent data from the Texas Workforce Commission show it at 3.6 percent in March 2017. That's up from 3.1 percent in March 2016.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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