- Some employers who hiked wages say they're not suffering from staff shortages.
- One told Insider she was "actually a little bit overstaffed" after raising starting pay to $14 an hour.
- A restaurant owner in Manhattan said she raised her starting wage to $25 an hour and is fully staffed.
They include a Michigan bar owner who says she pays staff $15 an hour, and a Manhattan restaurant owner who says she raised her starting wage to $25 an hour.
The US is suffering from a huge labor shortage as workers quit their jobs in search of better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Companies have been boosting wages to attract new workers and keep existing ones, in many cases raising their prices or cutting their operating hours to cover higher staff pay.
Andrea Ponce, a MaidPro franchisee in Florida, told Insider that she was "actually a little bit overstaffed" after raising starting pay from around $11 an hour pre-pandemic to $14 an hour in May.
She said that prior to this she'd raised starting pay to $12 and then $13 an hour but "didn't see an impact." But $14 an hour, coupled with Florida cutting off supplemental employment benefits in June, was the sweet spot to attract workers, she said.
Ponce added that increasing prices by between 5% and 10% to fund the higher wages hadn't deterred customers.
Amanda Cohen, who owns Manhattan restaurant Dirt Candy, used the pandemic to assess how she compensates workers. She told Insider that she raised starting wages to $25 an hour in May after realizing how badly some workers struggled financially during lockdowns.
Since raising wages, "we have not had a single problem with finding staff," Cohen said.
Cohen said she increased her restaurant's prices by around 30% and streamlined its menu to accommodate the new wages, but this hadn't put diners off.
"We put the focus on 'staff comes first and everything else comes second,'" Cohen said. "I can't succeed without a staff."
Tami VandenBerg, who owns The Meanwhile and The Pyramid Scheme bars in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told MiBiz that she used Payment Protection Program funds to raise starting wages to at least $15 an hour.
VandenBerg said that only around 20% of her staff retuned to their roles when the two bars reopened after COVID-related closures because they had health concerns, had returned to education, or had swapped industries. However, she said that both bars were now fully staffed.
"We decided to focus on paying staff as much as we could so we could attract people we wanted," VandenBerg said. "As long as funds are available to give people hazard pay, we are and will continue to do that."
Some companies are still struggling to hire even after raising wages
Jonathan Bergstein, who owns Maid to Sparkle, a residential cleaning service in Virginia, said that his workforce had roughly halved during the pandemic. He said that the company had raised starting wages to as much as $12 an hour and was offering hiring bonuses of up to $300, but it was still understaffed.
Bergstein said that as a small business he couldn't afford to offer benefits like a 401K or paid maternity leave.
"There's a fine line between getting employees and making enough profit to cover all your expenses," he said.
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