The Current State of the Food and Beverage and Light Industrial Economies

Wages are rising, people are going back to work, and talent is still hard to find.

America is getting back to work. Unemployment trends show a noticeable decline, from 6.1% in April 2021 to 5.5% in May 2021. Part of this trend is believed to be spurred by a number of states ending federal unemployment benefits as a way to woo workers back into gainful employment. Other symptoms could be the overall improvement of pandemic conditions, relaxed social distancing guidelines, and the availability of vaccines.

But now, many companies in the food and beverage and light industrial sectors are experiencing new challenges: attracting their share of a dwindling talent pool.

Here’s a peek at the current state of the economy for food, beverage, and light industrial sectors and what organizations can do to fill the gaps.

Talent Shortages Abound for Restaurants, Manufacturing, and Hospitality

While nearly 71% of employees were working from home (at least part time) during the pandemic, employees in industries like food, beverage, hospitality, and manufacturing weren’t offered that luxury. Instead, they faced a choice: continue working in person or find a new line of work.

Many restaurants saw their employees choose the latter. The State of the Restaurant Industry report notes that restaurants ended 2020 with 2.5 million fewer jobs compared to pre-COVID levels. Restaurants were harder hit than any other industry during the pandemic, and the majority report having staffing levels at more than 20% below normal levels.

Manufacturing companies are facing similar challenges, with projections that 2.1 million positions could go unfilled by 2030. About 1.4 million positions were lost in the early days of the pandemic.

Hotels are also having to stretch their workforce thing. It’s not uncommon for the person checking in guests at the front desk to also be the person cleaning the rooms. In some cases, hotels have to deny guests an available room simply because they don’t have the available staff to clean them.

Competition Leads to Higher Wages

For the past several years, lower-wage workers have been chanting for a $15 per hour minimum wage law change. Given the ongoing worker shortage, they might just get it without an official law.

Many companies are raising the stakes when it comes to hiring in an effort to attract quality talent. For example, fast food giant Jack in the Box reported that wages grew 5% in Q1 of 2021. Retailers like Advanced Auto Parts are also raising their wages just to be competitive. Basic laws of “supply and demand” are driving up wages, despite 58 Senators rejecting the chance to add a $15 minimum wage to the $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending package.

Filling the Gaps with Ready-Made Staffing

Even with wage increases, staffing is still a challenge for industries that rely on lower-skilled, on-site workers. In response, many companies are turning to creative problem solving by thinking beyond the typical staffing agency.

Jobility’s platform connects companies in food, beverage, and light industrial with vetted contractors and W2 workers. Companies of any size can get staffed quickly with pre-vetted candidates. Jobility removes many of the traditional risks of hiring, such as skills matching, background checks, and paperwork.

Explore the Jobility platform today to find your perfect match!