It’s Not a Worker Shortage, It’s a Wage Shortage

Why New York Restaurant Workers Are Leaving the Industry, And What Would Make Them Stay

The COVID-19 outbreak has had devastating impacts on the restaurant industry, with 6 million workers across the country and over 200,000 in New York losing work temporarily or permanently. Tipped restaurant workers, who are over two-thirds women, reported facing dramatically decreased tips and increased health risks and harassment in restaurants during the pandemic. This report documents the massive exodus of workers from restaurants, their reasons for leaving, and what would make them stay. Half of New York workers report that they are considering leaving their restaurant job with the pandemic and 90 percent say they are leaving due to low wages and tips, significantly higher than the national sample (76%).

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