Amid state’s low unemployment rate, restaurants struggling to find employees

Published: Aug. 19, 2019 at 10:49 PM CDT
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Iowa’s unemployment rate sits among the lowest in the country at 2.5% in July.

That number is good for employees, but it's hurt some employers who are struggling to fill jobs, including in the restaurant industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said employers hired more than 10 million foodservice and hotel workers across the country last year, but there was also an average of 900,000 job openings in that industry each month of 2018.

It also predicted that with more and more people dining out, the number of employees needed in the restaurant industry will grow more than almost any other occupation.

Several restaurants in the Cedar Rapids area say they're having trouble filling these jobs. Among them is Bop’s Pizza on Blairs Ferry Road, which has been open for only a few months.

But its owner, Curt Bean, has been in the restaurant business for more than 40 years and said finding and retaining employees right now is about as difficult as he's ever experienced.

“It does seem that a lot of people are just kind of shopping, and they're trying out jobs, so, unfortunately, what happens a lot of times is, they'll come in and work for a few days, and then they're gone,” Bean said.

Bean said he didn't have as big an issue hiring before the restaurant opened, but now that business is picking up more, he’s had more trouble filling two openings that he has now.

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