Restaurant and hotel workers are quitting their jobs at a rate that’s more than twice the record national average

A sign reads 'we all quit' at a Burger King in Nebraska
  • The hospitality industry’s labor challenges continued their free-fall in August.
  • A record 892,000 accommodation and food services workers quit their jobs, the BLS reported.
  • The industry’s quit rate of 6.8% far outpaces the record national average of 2.9%.

In his 30 years in the restaurant industry, Tad Long had never seen a manager simply walk out in the middle of a shift – but that was before his “Summer from Hell.”

Long, who manages several Mod Pizza locations in the Midwest, told Insider he spent most of the summer working 90-hour weeks opening at one restaurant, closing at another, and personally filling in at every level due to the staffing challenges running rampant across the hospitality sector.

“The frontline service workers just really don’t get much love from customers and everybody’s kind of stressed out,” Long said.

That stress is helping to fuel a record level of quits in the hospitality industry, which saw an unprecedented 892,000 workers walk away from their jobs in August, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The magnitude of that number is partly explained by the fact that accommodation and food services is a big sector that generally employs a lot of people, but the sector also led all others in the economy in percentage terms too.

With a rate of 6.8%, workers in the hospitality sector quit their jobs in August at more than twice the national average rate of 2.9%, which is also at a record high.

Long said he has to be “all hands on deck at all times of day” in order to line up interviews with new applicants to replace the ones who leave due to factors like burnout, better pay elsewhere, dissatisfaction with the job, or simply going back to school.

Another food-service manager, Christine Garrett, told Insider she had to hire 13 separate people this year in order to staff just one position at the cafe she runs at the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. Of those 13 hires, eight either quit without notice or never showed up in the first place.

Both Garrett and Long said they have raised wages and offered bonuses and incentives, but so far it hasn’t been enough to get staffing up to a fully functional level. And they are far from alone.

Three out of five fast-food restaurants, and four out of five full-service restaurants, said in a recent National Restaurant Association survey that they shut parts of dining rooms in August because they didn’t have the workers to serve those areas.

Meanwhile, dozens of restaurant workers told Insider that even though better pay was a necessary condition for them to remain in a job, other factors like proper training and facing workplace harassment mattered too.

A survey of nearly 14,000 hourly workers found more than half of restaurant workers reported having been abused by customers or managers – and many are planning to flee the industry altogether because of it. That same survey found 58% of restaurant and hotel employees plan to quit their jobs by the end of the year.

But it’s not only managers and owners who feel the squeeze when employees abruptly leave their jobs – workers feel it too. Matt Murphy told Insider he saw this play out several times as he worked seasonal jobs at restaurants and hotels over the past year.

“That would in some cases cause a chain reaction where the people who were left were being overworked,” he said. Then “those people would quit because their coworkers weren’t there to help them and they felt like they weren’t getting enough support.”

With the latest government statistics, it appears that these labor challenges are unlikely to be resolved any time soon.

If you are a hospitality industry worker, manager, or owner who is dealing with the labor crisis, please get in touch with Dominick Reuter via email. Responses to this story will be kept confidential.