Texas Restaurants Join Call to Realign Incentives, Support Working Families, and Rebuild our Workforce

May 13
smiling restaurant food truck crew

AUSTIN, TX (May 13, 2021) - Today, the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) joined a letter with 37 other business organizations in Texas to sound the alarm on the labor crisis that is threatening our state’s economic recovery. After enduring 15 months of a pandemic that has been particularly devastating for the restaurant industry, those that made it through are now struggling to rebuild because of the labor shortage.

According to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association between April 1-14, 2021:

  • 91% of Texas restaurant operators say they currently have job openings that are difficult to fill, and most do not expect labor challenges to ease after the pandemic is over.
  • 93% of operators say recruiting and retaining employees will likely be more difficult after the pandemic is over than it was before the pandemic started.

Many restaurants are offering hundreds of dollars in signing and referral bonuses to try and attract entry-level employees. But despite record pay and benefits, many restaurants are unable to find the employees they need to maintain even base operations, and so they are forced to close early at a time when they should be ramping up sales to recover revenue that was lost over the last 15 months.

The letter TRA joined today asks Governor Abbott and Bryan Daniel, Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, to address the critical labor shortage by:

  • Considering ending Texas’ participation in the extra $300 per week federal benefit that is added to standard unemployment insurance,
  • Promoting job opportunities in the state and the search-for-work requirement, and
  • Exploring additional steps Texas can take—potentially with funding the state will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act—to support workers reentering the job market and their families.

The workforce shortage was created by a host of challenges, and we know there is no silver bullet that will remedy it. TRA is committed to being a part of the solution and addressing the very real structural barriers that make it difficult for Texans to return to the workforce. For example, we remain committed to worker safety. We’ve hosted free COVID-19 vaccine drives across the state, provided free safety training to restaurants, and encouraged operators to provide incentives and support to workers who want to get a COVID-19 vaccine. We’re also partnering with the Texas Workforce Commission to deploy free food handler and alcohol seller/server trainings to remove a financial barrier for those who join or remain in our industry.

Still, we know challenges remain, many of which are beyond restaurants’ control. As an industry that depends on women and working parents, access to child care is particularly concerning to our members. We’re grateful for the state’s recent action to shore up child care and are hopeful more can be done to help Texans reentering the job market. Every tool should be on the table, from child care supports to return-to-work incentives and employment bonuses.

TRA will continue to work with our leaders in the public and private sector to support working people and families so we can address the hiring crisis and give our restaurants and other businesses a chance to rebuild.

About the Texas Restaurant Association
The Texas Restaurant Association was formed in 1937 to serve as the advocate in Texas and the indispensable resource for the foodservice industry. Today, as a leading business association, TRA represents the state’s $70 billion restaurant industry, which is comprised of more than 50,000 locations and a workforce of 1.3 million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the Association protects, advances, and educates the growing industry.


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