'Are you breathing? Hired.' Why SoCal restaurants are still deeply short-staffed


Cost of living throughout the LA area is through the roof. Anyone who was previously working at a lower wage now can’t afford to live close enough to the places where they are looking to hire. This leads to fewer bodies for the same/similar amount of jobs; some people moved away, like the article mentioned, or people just don’t feel they are compensated enough to deal with the entitlement of so many customers.


Here is a 2021 article about nationwide restaurant shortages, focused on West Virginia. I don’t think the cost of living is very high in West Virginia (that’s why I picked it). There are plenty of places in this country to work and house oneself for people who are interested.

In West Virginia, the minimum wage for servers is $2.72.


Yes, West Virginia has a cheaper cost of living, but the increase in cost of living is felt there too! If wages don’t keep up with cost of living increases and inflation, your real wage and buying power is much lower. A quick google search shows that from 2020 to now, rent for a studio/one bedroom apartment has gone from $550-580 to $750-$800 in Charleston, WV. And, inflation is running rampant on food and energy, the basics to survive.

Example monthly costs:

  • Rent: $750
  • Auto payment & insurance: Let’s say $225-250/month (probably low)
  • $100/month on car fuel
  • $100-150/month on utilities and internet (probably more)
  • $30-50/month on a cellphone plan

Total before groceries: $1200-$1300/month

Average dishwasher pay in Charleston (from Google search): $12.50-$13.50/hr

40 hours/wk: $500-$540
Monthly take home after 20% taxes: $1730-$1875

So for groceries and ANY other expenses, like health insurance, emergencies, auto repairs, etc…, a dishwasher is left with $530-$675/month. This math makes no sense in the long run, and it’s no surprise people are looking elsewhere. You’re working your butt off in the dish pit, and feel like you can barely survive

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“We have waiters at Spago that make over $120,000, $150,000,” he said. “So it’s not a job which doesn’t pay well, either.”


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