Businesses Face Challenges in Reopening Due to Staffing Shortages, Other Issues

As the state continues to reopen, businesses are having a hard time filling positions

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As the state of Illinois continues its reopening process amid the COVID pandemic, some businesses are having a difficult time filling positions, with low wages and employee health concerns playing a large role, according to surveys.

A survey released over the weekend by the group One Fair Wage found that 53% of restaurant workers are considering leaving the industry because of low wages.

It’s something the St. Charles Business Alliance is highlighting as a new challenge for restaurants: a lack of staff.

Mikey Knab, Co- Director of "RAISE: High Road Restaurants," assists restaurants in raising wages to meet “livable wage” standards.

“If your wages can’t compete with $300 a week in unemployment, you might want to rethink your business model,” said Knab.

Jimmy Bradley, a former restaurant worker in Chicago, says he had to change careers after being laid off during the pandemic, and he’s been reluctant to come back to the industry because of low offers.

“The wages aren’t really there. A lot of places are really only trying to pay, maybe, a dollar or two above minimum wage,” said Bradley.

On Monday, during an address on the economy, President Joe Biden made remarks about those on unemployment.

“Anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” said President Biden. “There are few COVID related exceptions so people aren’t forced to choose between their basic safety and a paycheck.”

Constance Simms-Kincaid, owner and operator of 5 Loaves Eatery, says she recently had to raise menu prices in order to raise wages for her employees. However, she believes it will be worth it in the long run.

“Whenever you want A-quality people, you’re going to have to start paying A-quality prices,” said Kincaid.

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