Restaurants and the labor market

This article by Steve Barnes is about local restaurants having a hard time finding employees -- but it's about all sorts of other threads, including the modern food economy, the labor market, immigration, and ICE. (The flip side of this story is also that maybe we should all be paying a bit more to eat in restaurants so that the people who work there can make more.) [TU]


This is a situation without a single, clear solution, because the problem is multifaceted. I wonder about a lot of different aspects of this a lot. Where are the local college kids trying to pay their way through school? I lived at home and worked a hot, dirty, rough kitchen job through high school and through college and even after college so that I could pay for my student loans. I understand that's not an option for everyone, but I imagine it is more practical than a lot of people give it credit for.

I don't feel even a tiny bit bad for employers who willingly hire workers who are in the country illegally or undocumented. That's called breaking the law, and these restaurants should get slapped with the book for doing that. Like this idiot: "Jasper says he's aware of one restaurant worker who, hearing that ICE agents were nearby and picking up people off the street, fled his job with his employer's blessing and hid out in the public library until he could get a ride home." The employer should be legally liable for that incident. Employers hiring these individuals aren't always on the up and up, and I do believe worker abuse is far more common among these workers than it should be, precisely because employers can get away with it and somehow claim a moral high ground in doing so.

DZ Restaurants has the right idea; do it the legal way. If it's really impossible to find local people to fill these slots, it sounds like the J-1 visa program is a great way to get staff. If the restaurant industry needs immigrants to staff their establishments, let's do it the legal way.

"The flip side of this story is also that maybe we should all be paying a bit more to eat in restaurants so that the people who work there can make more." You prove to me how these low skill jobs actually require more money and I'll show you basic economics how that logic leads to a wonderful world of inflation. But, I wouldn't have to do that because these jobs aren't worth more than what they're currently getting paid.

But if we follow your suggestion we would expect to see fewer of us eating out, and thus fewer restaurant employees. Not saying either choice is good or bad, but if the employees are your concern, those are the trade-offs.

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