Email Us:
October 11, 2022

DULUTH – Salaries are on the rise for restaurant and retail positions across the country. Still, the struggle remains to fill and retain employees in these entry-level positions.

A recent snapshot of annual averages for employment and wages captures the overall seasonal nature of the retail and hospitality industries, he said

Carson Gorecki

, the Department of Economic Development’s regional labor market analyst for Northeast Minnesota.

Of the total 14,737 job openings among food and beverage workers nationwide in 2021, Northeast Minnesota had 1,134, according to


. Over the same period, Minnesota’s fast food industry saw the highest percentage of vacancies for supervisor and cook positions, with average wages ranging from $14.88 to $17.02 per hour.

Meanwhile, the fast-food industry in Northeast Minnesota experienced the highest vacancy rate for food preparation and customer service workers for positions such as dining room and cafeteria assistants, waiters, dishwashers, hosts and hostesses. Average wages for these jobs in the Northeast ranged from $10.25 to $12.71 an hour, while fast food supervisors and cooks were offered an average hourly pay of $13.38 and $11.49, respectively.

Let’s take for example

Burger King on London Road

in Duluth. CEO Shanelle Taylor said starting wages for new hires are $15-$18 an hour. However, the restaurant is constantly struggling to fill night kitchen staff positions and end-of-shift management positions. There are currently 12 staff members available, but six more are needed, Taylor said.

“A lot of it is training. We can’t retain management because we don’t have the right support to train team members,” said Taylor, who is in charge of onboarding new hires. “When we can’t do the training, the team member feels overwhelmed. They’re just thrown into something they don’t know and they’re just overwhelmed.”

Nearly two months ago, a disgruntled manager walked off the job and closed the restaurant early, but not before leaving a note in the window for customers. An


the note, which was posted on Reddit on August 18, read: “Sorry we’re closed. The management here is treating the employees badly so I’m resigning. Sorry for the inconvenience to our customers. Please support a company that values ​​its hardworking employees . Thank you.”

Jamey Malcomb / Duluth News Tribune

The Burger King on London Road is just one of 181 owned and operated locations across six countries

Cave companies

from Chicago.

“The problem isn’t really the position of the team member,” Taylor said. “We can’t keep the lead. We have lost 10 managers since opening in September 2020. I asked higher management for help, but there was no help. I’m forced to keep recruiting, training and moving people up when I feel they’re ready.”

The new recruiting platform has helped attract more applications for open positions, Taylor said, adding that even after offering a new referral bonus, employee retention remains an issue.

“So many people are against fast food and working here. The team is good; sometimes it’s stressful. But overall, I just need good managers,” Taylor said.

In terms of retail sales occupations, there were 26,804 job openings in Minnesota, with 2,645 in the Northeast. Average wages for regional retail locations are lower than the national average, ranging from $20.61 for supervisors to $12.80 for salespeople. Across the country, salespeople are paid slightly more, while supervisors receive an average wage of nearly $10 more per hour.

Since 2019, Duluth has seen a 10% drop in employment in the retail industry and an 18% decrease in the hospitality industry, according to quarterly employment and wage data.