After absorbing nearly half of the destruction caused by the pandemic shutdowns, the leisure and hospitality industry is still in a deep hole, down 2.5 million jobs from early last year.

“There simply are not enough workers to fill those slots,” said Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, who estimated the industry has about 70,000 openings in the state.
“And there are a number of factors that contribute to that but obviously one of those is the challenge in getting immigrant workers to fill some of the jobs.”

Restaurants and hotels are reducing opening hours, closing for certain days each week and limiting their guests due to a lack of staff, Minges added, which is also resulting in fatigue and burnout among workers who have to pick up the slack.

Robert Melvin, director of government affairs for the The Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, said the lack of access…

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