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Western Livestock Journal May 7, 2021

Boomerangs and bottlenecks

This is another year when far-out planning will be in order, and expect industries we depend on to sometimes not deliver on time. A state we traveled to recently ran an in-depth story on restaurants that echoes stories we’ve heard repeated many times.

Place an ad for help—whether servers, line cooks or bartenders—and schedule interviews. Some 60-70 percent won’t show up for the interview. Hire anyone you can and nearly all don’t show up for the first day of work. Some of the ones who actually show up work for two weeks and quit.

There are several factors involved. In the year where many restaurants and bars were closed all or much of the time, some workers left the industry. Businesses that boomed during the pandemic, like retail grocers or Amazon, hired hundreds of thousands of people, who now are used to regular paychecks and healthcare. They aren’t coming back.

Uncle Sam stacking $1,200/month on top of state unemployment benefits means some folks can make more riding the couch than by working. That will hold through September—if Congress doesn’t extend it again.

Every restaurant in big towns is hiring. Some customers understand, but others complain about long waits for food and servers stretched working too many tables. Hopefully, customers starved for professional cooking, dishes they don’t tackle at home and eating somewhere besides couch-side with the TV, will keep coming back.

The stunning price run-up in boxed beef prices indicates they must be coming back for more. The record established during the pandemic-induced shortages last year have been smashed.

Packers are having some of the same problems but with added reasons. With crews short-staffed, working all out during the week for over a year, Saturday after Saturday, and working under COVID-dictated new protocols, extra equipment and spacing requirements just don’t have the capability of pushing at the same pace. We’ve heard some of the biggest plants just can’t achieve top throughput right now...


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