KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Many West Michigan business owners said they are experiencing a staffing shortage and it’s a much bigger problem now than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across West Michigan, you don't have to look far for a now hiring sign. Dozens of employers in Kalamazoo said they are experiencing a staffing shortage, especially in the hospitality industry.
“It’s just a hard business in general and we’ve known that our whole lives, but the joy you give the community is worth it," Julie Stanley, owner of Food Dance, said.
There are more than 800 job openings in the food industry in West Michigan as of July 21, according to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market.
The Lodge in South Haven opened in the beginning of July. Co-owner Meredith Sherrod said they aren't having problems hiring employees.
“We get applicants every day and there’s definitely not a shortage of people applying or people to hire and we’ve been getting a lot of quality candidates," Sherrod said.
Others aren’t so lucky.
Multiple restaurants in downtown Kalamazoo have been forced to close their doors for good due to lack of staff, others are cutting hours because they don’t have enough employees.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, industry leaders said many left the restaurant business because of the multiple shutdowns and inconsistency of work, leaving a smaller pool of candidates to hire.
“I do have some friends who switched careers but many that have done it say, 'man why did I do that,'" Sherrod said. "I feel like everybody who does it, misses being in the industry.”
A Michigan job report showed many leaving the hospitality industry go to work in manufacturing, construction or the marijuana industry.
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