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Booming economy leads to bust in retail and restaurant employees

Getting qualified people in the door, who will stay, has been an issue

The economy is doing well, and unemployment is low. That’s a good thing, right? The quick answer is yes…but it’s a bit complicated.

“People want to spend money, they come out and they celebrate stuff more often, and they spend money in restaurants, but then you just have a hard time finding employees to cover that extra business,” says Kim Ziegler, operator of the Fireside restaurants in Richfield, Rosemount and Hastings.

Getting qualified people in the door, who will stay, has been an issue. There’s more jobs than there are people to fill them. For Ziegler, it’s cooks. He just can’t find qualified candidates.

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“This is the most I’ve ever had to cook in my career, and I’ve been doing this for a long time and I end up in the kitchen a lot cooking myself because we just don’t have enough people,” he says.

You think he’s got it bad? The fast-food sector is dying on the vine.

"Turnover has hit them really hard. You can expect a turnover rate of 100%. So, if you are a GM of one of those restaurants, you're looking at your employees, and you know you're going to be replacing every single one of them in the next year,” says Dr. Mia Mulrennan, CEO of Rave-Worthy.


Dr. Mulrennan is hospitality psychologist, brand advisor and human resources guru. She says the job market is always tough for restaurants and retailers in a booming economy, but this, this is different.

“If you can actually get someone to stay for 90 days, it is a monumental feet, that's how they are measuring the stay times now because it's so severe,” she says.

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“That really hasn't happened before, I think that's unprecedented, because of the current state of the economy and technology as well,” Mulrennan adds.


So customers, get used to what appears to be, at least for now, our new normal. And what's a business owner to do? Raise wages to stay competitive? Possibly, but then then that has to trickle down somewhere, most likely to the customer. And, if you're going to keep talent, you've got to make it a place they want to be.

“We're a great place to work, fun owners, fun atmosphere, come on in and apply,” laughs Zeigler…except he isn’t kidding.

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