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For desperate workers, US restaurants and shops are raising wages

WASHINGTON (AP) – US restaurants and shops are rapidly raising wages in a bid to attract more applicants to keep customers afloat as the epidemic eases.

McDonald’s, Sheetz and Chipotle are just some of the latest companies to lag behind Amazon, Walmart and Costco in raising salaries, in some cases $ 15 an hour or more.

Of course, wage benefits for these employees. Restaurants, bars, hotels և shops continue to be the lowest paid industries, և many of their employees risked signing a contract with COVID-19 last year, while white collars were able to work from home.

Still, rising wages could boost inflation if companies raise prices to cover additional labor costs. Some companies, however, may absorb costs or invest in automation over time to offset higher wages.

The U.S. and cities are easing business restrictions as COVID-19 deaths քեր fall, այում in Florida, Nևjada և Texas, restaurants in such places are above or near pre-epidemic levels, says industry software provider OpenTable.

Many companies say they are struggling to find employees.

“Customers are coming back faster than restaurants can be replenished,” said Osh Osh Beavens, director of research at the Left Economic Policy Institute. “By raising wages, they are able to put more workers in the door.”

In April, even when general employment was slowing, a category that included restaurants, hotels, and entertainment hired more employees than in the previous month.

On Thursday, McDonald’s announced that by 2024, the company’s employees in 650 stores will increase their salaries by an average of $ 15. Entry level staff will be $ 11. The company is urging its 14,000 privileged restaurants to make the same changes.

On Thursday, Amazon said it would pay $ 17 for new hires as it wanted to add 75,000 new employees. The online giant said it was offering a $ 100 bonus for newly vaccinated employees.

And Sheetz, a convenience store chain in the Atlantic, announced Monday that it was giving its 18,000 employees an extra $ 2 an hour and an extra $ 1 an hour in the summer.

Wage earnings across the restaurant industry largely returned wages to the same growth trend as before the epidemic, Beavens said. He expects that the rise in prices in the coming months will rise above this trend.

In April, consumer prices in restaurants rose by 0.3%, which is much less than that month’s workforce. That means many restaurants make less profit than they pass on to customers, Beavens said. Over the past year, restaurant prices have risen by 3.8%, which is above the pre-epidemic level.

Concerns about higher inflation have dominated financial markets after consumer prices jumped 4.2% in April from a year earlier, the biggest gain in 13 years. But the increase was mainly due to higher prices for used cars, more expensive air tickets, rather than higher labor costs.

At the end of March, the number of jobs in the United States reached 8.2 million as a sign that companies are generally struggling to add employees. But employers added just 266,000 jobs in April, far fewer than last month.

Some of the unemployed do not want to return to work for fear of contracting COVID-19, while many women have left the workforce to care for children still in online school. Some of the unemployed receive more benefits than they did in their old jobs because of the extra $ 300 unemployment benefits.

Gad Levanon, who works in a business research group and a conference’s labor economist, says the shortage of labor is likely to be temporary, meaning wages do not have to rise at the same rate.

“COVID fears are likely to fall, schools are likely to reopen in September, and additional unemployment benefits will expire in September,” he said. “So we will see some reduction in labor shortages.”

Even in the case of recent salary gains, the average weekly salary in April was only $ 477.40, the category includes restaurants, bars, hotels, amusement parks and other entertainment venues.

This is partly due to the large number of part-time workers in the industry, some of whom prefer shorter schedules. But others would probably work harder if they could.

Fighting for $ 15 և Union, a working group trying to unite fast-food workers, said the increases were not enough to continue to demand a starting salary of $ 15 an hour for all McDonald’s employees.

“Understandably, McDonald’s understands that something needs to change to hire and retain talented employees,” said Doneshia Babbit, a union organizer at McDonald’s. “Now they’re raising wages for some of us, using lavish math tricks to realize that most of us are selling short.”

The $ 15 fight is set to go on strike next Wednesday in 15 cities ahead of the annual meeting of fast-food giant shareholders.

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AP business writer DN Durbin contributed to this Detroit story.

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