Customers are back at restaurants and bars, but workers have moved on

After Covid-19 forced restaurants, hotels and bars to shut last year, thousands of workers didn’t just get pushed to the employment sidelines. Many, like Ms. Roshitsh, moved onto new careers in digital sales, shipping, mortgage-financing and other businesses that thrived in the pandemic, in what some economists say could mark a lasting shift in the labor market for hospitality staff.

That exodus, they say, could spell labor challenges for the sector that persist well beyond September, when the enhanced federal unemployment benefits that have helped keep some low-wage workers from returning to jobs are set to expire.

To try to lure workers back, many restaurant operators and other hospitality businesses are raising wages, offering signing perks and rethinking scheduling practices to make the work more flexible and, in some cases, less grueling...

A LinkedIn analysis of people who updated their profiles with a new job shortly after the pandemic’s onset last year also found a higher level of career switching among people in hospitality jobs.