FILE - OH Secretary of State Jon Husted

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted

(The Center Square) – The ongoing chorus from Ohio bar and restaurant owners struggling to find employees to meet an increasing demand of customers continues to grow louder as the number of jobs available in the state approaches 200,000.

The Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) released information Wednesday showing some sectors of its industry have moved ahead of pre-pandemic sales levels but, as a whole, the group faces significant pressure to rebuild its employee base.

Issues began when millions of restaurant workers lost their jobs at the beginning of the pandemic and moved into other industries, retired or continue to be reluctant to work because of COVID-19 concerns.

Federal stimulus money also plays a role, ORA said.

“Operators tell ORA every day that another significant challenge is employees won’t return to work while they are receiving stimulus payments from the government and extended unemployment through September,” ORA’s most-recent newsletter read.

Employers are attempting to combat federal payments with higher wages, which also is driving up menu prices.

Restaurants and bars are not the only industries struggling to fill positions.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said 180,773 jobs are posted on OhioMeansJobs.com and more than 90,000 of those positions have a salary of more than $50,000.

Husted also promoted several state training programs that would help create skills for unemployed workers.

“We have training programs available that can give you the skills you need to be ready to go back to work at an in-demand, higher paying job in one month or less,” Husted said.

The number of workers unemployed in March was 272,000, down from 288,000 in February, according to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.