Some Boston hotels and restaurants are still in desperate need of workers as business picks up

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BOSTON — The city of Boston is alive on the eve of Labor Day, with thousands of students and their families returning to town.

Despite the business boom, some hotels and restaurants say they still can’t reach the same staffing levels they had before the pandemic.

“Staffing, the workforce, has been an incredible challenge. I’ve never felt so overwhelmed by the lack of people who want to work,” said Amy Finsilver, general manager of the XV Beacon Hotel.

This summer, Finsilver says business returned to pre-pandemic levels from the Boston Marathon. Her staffing levels have not returned, forcing her to personally fill concierge, front desk and valet positions.

“We are still operating with just under half the staff we had before the pandemic,” Finsilver said.

According to the latest employment report, the labor market remains solid. The economy added 315,000 jobs in August. Unemployment rose to 3.7% from 3.5% in July. According to the US Department of Labor, there are still two jobs for every unemployed person.

At Tuscan Kitchen in the Seaport, the situation is not as dire. The restaurant’s general manager, Charlie Wright, said 85% of his staff stayed on during the pandemic while the rest left the restaurant industry altogether.

“The heart of this restaurant and its success is really the people,” Wright said.

Finsilver now resorts to recruiting and training people outside the hospitality industry. She wonders if the workforce will fully return.

“Why work 365 days, open a business 24 hours a day when they can work from home, change their hours,” she said.

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