South Mississippi food sector feeling impact of labor shortage

Experts say much of the labor shortage comes from part-time workers accustomed to working on and off.
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 7:37 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Blue Marlin is back in business. After an 18-month hiatus, the Gulfport restaurant held a soft opening Thursday.

“We have hired an entirely new staff and done a lot of training,” said Clint Taylor. “We did a couple of mock service events. Last night we opened to the public. We didn’t tell a lot of people, but we had a successful first night back.”

The business originally opened in 2019, but Clint Taylor said it was difficult to find people to work.

‘We just simply ran out of staff members there for a minute,” he said.

It’s a problem everywhere. According to the US Chamber, the food sector is struggling to retain workers, experiencing consistently high quit rates.

“People really enjoy coming and eating barbeque at the Rib Crib,” said Rib Crib general manager William Henson. “We just have to get people who enjoy coming and cooking the barbeque at Rib Crib.”

Rib Crib Barbeque in Ocean Springs opened last October. Tuesday, the eatery was named business of the month for March.

“So as we grow and expand, we always need great people in different positions to grow with us,” said Henson.

In February, businesses added 678,000 jobs across the country. Still, according to Yahoo Finance, employers are trying to fill 11 million positions, nearly the most ever. Companies are raising pay and offering perks, hoping to land workers.

Taylor said, this time around, the Blue Marlin is taking a different approach.

“We have to let people know that we’re open for business, and that we’re hiring and get the word out. We’ve done some creative, non-traditional things to engage our employees,” he said.

Farther down Highway 90, William Henson and his crew have a similar plan that seems to be working.

“We have kept more day one employees in this restaurant than probably any restaurant I’ve ever opened,” he said.

According to experts, much of the labor shortage comes from part-time workers accustomed to working on and off, who have checked out of the labor force during the pandemic.

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