Restaurants face new hurdle as diners return: Finding workers

Restaurant employment has risen each month this year, according to the National Restaurant Association, but staffing levels at full-service restaurants in February were still 20 percent — or 1.1 million jobs — lower than a year ago. (Employment at quick-service and fast-casual restaurants was down just 6 percent over the same period.)

Owners and chefs at full-service restaurants say the main reason staffing remains stubbornly low is that there are simply many more job openings than available workers.

Hugh Acheson, a chef with restaurants in Atlanta and Athens, Ga., is in charge of food and beverage at the new Hotel Effie Sandestin, in Miramar Beach, Fla. Around the time it opened in February, he said, one online job site advertised more than 300 line cook openings in the same area. “And those listings had been up for, like, two months,” he said.