NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Since the pandemic began, the restaurant industry has continued to deal with a lack of workers. Along with inflation, many restaurant workers are leaving the industry because they can’t live off of minimum wage.

“I have been in the restaurant industry for 10 years,” Sierra Bates said. “I think at the time that I worked at a barbeque restaurant, I was making $7 an hour.”

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Bates now has a new job at Edley’s Barbeque and is happy about the significant income boost. The restaurant’s general manager spoke about supporting staff through a decent wage and good working conditions.

“It was a major struggle, there were challenges left and right and challenges that we had not had experience with before,” said General Manager Adam Hensley. “We had to think outside the box creatively, to come up with new ways get staff new team members to execute the business model.”

According to AARP, in 2020, 34% of service workers (food servers, security guards and janitors) were laid off or had their hours and pay reduced. Many companies have since raised their pay and benefits for employees.

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