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Restaurants Can’t Find Workers Even Amid Historic Unemployment

Aug. 27, 2020, 11:00 AM

Not even the greatest surge in joblessness in 80 years is easing the fast-food industry’s years-old labor shortage.

That’s because the Covid-19 pandemic is making this year’s economic crisis very different than past downturns, when restaurants offered an important lifeline for the newly unemployed. Since service-sector jobs now mean a higher chance of infection, even higher pay isn’t coaxing workers into the kitchen.

Key demographics -- like teenagers, at the urging of their parents, and the elderly -- are staying away for health and safety reasons, and emergency-enhanced unemployment checks have kept others on the sidelines. Restaurant chains are reporting ...