The food and beverage industry continues to suffer disproportionately from the “Great Resignation”.  A new labor report from data research company, Morning Consult, reveals data taken from 2,200 U.S. adults between February and April, and may help us understand why this is the case.

In total, 12.4% of respondents stated that they had quit a job in the last year.  However, when the data is broken down by industry, we see that 16.7% of food and beverage workers reported quitting a job in the same timeframe. 

Two main factors come into play.  First is pay, which is hardly a surprise when it comes to the service sector.  Many food and beverage jobs are minimum wage jobs, and in many states, that rate is just $7.25.  New Jersey’s minimum wage is up to $13.00, but when cost of living is considered, it doesn’t seem so high.  The problem of low wages has created an existential problem for food service, as employers struggle to see themselves as a “first-job” industry or one that provides a living wage.  Many are being forced into thinking the latter.

It makes more sense that many in the food industry are quitting for the second factor: burnout.  The report shows that 46.8% of workers in food and beverage reported that their employer had insufficient staff.  Those staff members that stick around end up pulling a greater amount of work, get burned-out, and leave.  Their only other choice is to ask for a raise, which a good number did.  About 27.7% of food and beverage workers polled had asked for a raise in the last year.

Clearly, employers have many factors to consider in trying to fix staffing issues, but with so many of those issues dependent on one another, choosing one to deal with first can be complicated.  Burnout can’t easily be solved without first raising wages to attract and retain workers, for instance.  And how does a restaurant offer employees more flexibility?  Answers to these questions don’t come easily, but businesses will need to figure it out.  Already, wages are growing at a historic rate and advancements in technology are making life in kitchens easier with fewer staff.  Such widespread, sweeping changes move slowly, but they will change the food industry completely.