NJ restaurant wants more work visas amid employee shortage

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
CARLSTADT, New Jersey (WABC) -- The COVID-19 pandemic that initially put millions out of work has now created a nationwide worker shortage, and at a decades old Italian restaurant in New Jersey, the owner says getting workers -- even for good money -- is harder than ever.

The staff is working hard, preparing for the lunchtime rush at Il Villaggio, where the owner, Ralph Magliocchetti, has put his heart and soul into the business for 42 years.

The pandemic forced a shutdown for months, and he lost his workforce -- many of whom haven't returned.

"These people find other jobs like Uber and GrubHub," Magliocchetti said. "They work whenever they want. They don't have to punch in or punch out."

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The family-run business includes a catering hall, which needs workers to run at optimal levels.

"The incentives are there," daughter and co-owner Angela Magliocchetti said. "I think the hours are too much for most people anymore."

They've posted jobs on websites -- jobs that were easy to fill pre-pandemic. But not any more.

"Normally when I would put an ad on Craigslist for a busboy or kitchen help, I would get at least 10 or 15 responses almost right away within a day or two," Angela Magliocchetti said. "The last ad I put on, I didn't even get one response."

The believe of of the solutions to this problem is to allow more immigrants to come into the country on work visas, because they would be committed to doing jobs in the restaurant industry.

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Unemployment in New Jersey stands at 7.2%, with job growth in education, health services, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, construction and financial services.

Restaurants, however, are still struggling to rebuild their staff even with higher wages and bonuses for current employees who recruit new workers.

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