Savannah labor shortage continues as workers enter other markets

Walk by any business establishment in Savannah and you’re almost guaranteed to see a sign of the times: Placards that read either “Help Wanted” or announcing limited operating hours due to a worker shortage. Some storefronts feature both.

More than a year has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic decimated jobs, and businesses continue to struggle to fill open positions as the demand for services outpaces the supply of labor. 

“Just about everyone on Highway 80, you’re going to see a ‘Now Hiring’ sign. Burger King, Wendy’s, the Hardee’s — they’re all closing early,” said Andrea Davis, an assistant manager at Gate Petroleum in Pooler. 

Previous reporting:A new pandemic pinch: Savannah-area restaurants, hotels facing labor shortage

The lingering labor shortage for operators of restaurants and other hospitality industry businesses runs contrary to what other sectors have experienced this year.  Savannah’s regional economy has recovered to about 99% of its pre-pandemic levels, says Michael Toma, professor of economics at Georgia Southern University. Georgia, the first state to reopen following the initial COVID-19 surge last spring, has seen a 97% recovery rate.