Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) CEO Carol Dover sounded the alarm over a hospitality labor shortage during a Senate travel and tourism subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, asserting that Florida hotels and restaurants are "desperate for workers."
During her witness testimony, Dover told members of the newly formed U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade and Export Promotion that despite being able to open and function at 100% capacity, Florida's hospitality operators are unable to fill open positions.
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The labor squeeze has occurred despite a period of soaring unemployment, as many hotels and restaurants were forced to lay off or furlough a significant number of employees during the height of the Covid-19 crisis.
"Simply put, we are competing with state and federal unemployment benefits," Dover said. "Workers tell us they make too much on unemployment to return to work. So businesses are forced to limit capacity and shorten their hours without adequate staff to serve guests."
According to the FRLA, which represents more than 10,000 Florida hotels, restaurants, theme parks and other operators, more than 62% of the state's hospitality employees were either laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic.