Denver hospitality workers seeking greener pastures

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A ‘Help Wanted’ sign is posted beside Coronavirus safety guidelines in front of a restaurant in Los Angeles, California on May 28, 2021. – Following over a year of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, many jobs at restaurants, retail stores and bars remain unfilled, despite California’s high unemployment rate, causing some owners to fear they will not be able to fully reopen by the June 15th date California has given for a full reopening of the economy. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

DENVER (KDVR) – Colorado’s service industry workers have had enough instability in the last year and are looking for steadier landings.

Part of the situation comes from a broader national trend. Workers in certain industries have increased their expectations for wages and salaries at the same time they tire of instability.

According to human resources consulting firm Robert Half, 34% of surveyed Denver workers say they’re planning to part ways with jobs and/or companies in the next six months to obtain higher salaries and have greater opportunities for career advancements.

“There’s a war for talent in Denver,” said Eric Olson, District President for Robert Half in Denver. “Companies are reopening, and everyone is having difficulty attracting workers.”

Among other things, workers say they want higher wages and more flexible scheduling. Just under half – 41% – of the surveyed workers said they want a fully remote position.

National numbers give a good stand-in.

The. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks the number of workers who quit by industry and by region. The job sectors that got hit hardest during the pandemic are the ones now losing the most workers: retail, entertainment and restaurants.

Leisure and hospitality along with accommodations and food services have the nation’s highest quit rates. Those three industry brackets are losing workers at twice the rate of the country’s industries altogether.

BLS has a Colorado snapshot that should raise some eyebrows at employment prospects for hospitality workers.

The number of people employed in leisure and hospitality was at its highest point in Colorado in February 2020. Nearly 350,000 workers had jobs in that industry sector.

The pandemic cut that number in half within a month, and it hasn’t climbed back as quickly as other industries.

In April, there were 287,300 people employed in leisure and hospitality. That’s the same number as April 2014.

Olson’s company dug into the JOLTS report and found it largely as true in Denver as the nation at large.

“A lot of those service economies were greatly impacted,” he said. “Those employees feel very much at risk. With so many opportunities to match higher starting salaries. Those are the industries where those people can match their previous salary that might seem more secure to them.”

Healthcare, financial tech services, software and IT, oil and gas are all seeing some migrants from the service sectors.

Olson said the largest bump could be from lodging services. The high-end timeshares and recreational services will likely see a big comeback as couped up post-COVID consumers continue spending money getting out of their houses this summer.

“People want to get out and play,” Olson said. “Colorado usually does that well.”

According to a March SCE Labor Market Survey, expected wages have never been higher.

In March 2014, college graduates said they wouldn’t take a job for anything less than $70,316 per year.

Workers without college degrees now expect $61,000 a year – $10,000 more a year than they expected last March before the pandemic hit.

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