Worker shortage leads to longer waits and reduced hours for fast food

McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s in Grand Blanc all looking for more employees
Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 7:07 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - Fast food is not so fast in Grand Blanc this week.

A nationwide worker shortage is creating long drive-thru lines and wait times for food at many fast food chains, including restaurants in the Grand Blanc area.

A shortage of workers at places like Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and others means the restaurants are closing early or adjusting their hours in some cases. So a quick trip through the drive-thru may not be as quick -- or happen at all.

There is no shortage of “Now Hiring” signs along Saginaw Street in Grand Blanc. The search is on to get fast food joints fully staffed.

“Restaurant workers have been working for years and years and years at really low wages. When the government is helping out, it’s a lot better for them than when they’re actually at work working,” said Aaron Hyatt, who works in the food service industry as a chef.

It comes as no surprise to him that many fast food joints are short staffed.

“Maybe the whole industry needs a rework, because it’s obvious that people aren’t being paid right,” Hyatt said.

The state and federal governments have provided an infusion of COVID-19 relief money to workers affected by the pandemic in the form of stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits.

The national unemployment rate is 6%, but more than doubled to nearly 14% for teenagers who are likely to be employed by fast food chains.

“We always have problems with people and shortage and stuff. A lot of times they offer $12 or $13 an hour. It’s rare to see people coming in that want to work,” said Muhmmed Almutarrab, who used to manage a gas station until last month.

He said the shortage of workers is just about everywhere. It’s gotten so bad that he left his job and is in the process of starting his own business.

“Once they stop the unemployment checks coming in, people will start going out to work,” Almutarrab said.

The McDonald’s on Saginaw Street in Grand Blanc says it has no plans of changing its hours indefinitely. The restaurant experienced two isolated incidents this week, which led managers to close early, but they hope it will not be a recurring change.

Representatives for other fast food restaurants in Grand Blanc did not return messages seeking comment Thursday.

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