Memo to hospitality industry: it’s a “labour market”

For months we have witnessed Australia’s hospitality industry whine over labour shortages and lobby the federal government to give it easier access to foreign workers.

At the same time the hospitality industry contradictorily called for an extension of JobKeeper and has lobbied to freeze the minimum wage.

We are seeing the same shenanigans over the pond in New Zealand where its hospitality industry is lobbying hard against the Ardern Government’s proposed immigration reset, which plans to lower immigration levels by focusing on higher skilled and higher paid migrants:

Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said it was launching a two-month campaign of action, starting with a petition calling for further consultation on the Government’s “immigration reset”…

Before Covid-19 hit and the borders closed, about 30 per cent of the restaurant workforce were on temporary work visas… The number of restaurant workers on temporary visas had slipped to about 15 per cent, “with no viable replacement”…

Bidois said the situation was “beyond critical”…

“We were experiencing a skills shortage prior to border closures but the sector is in the midst of a skill shortage at levels never seen before,” Bidois said… “These are our baristas, our chefs, our cafe managers”…

The Restaurant Association has called for three measures:

  • Pause the planned hourly wage threshold increase to $27
  • Provide additional visa extensions for employer-assisted work visa holders currently in the country, so restaurants can retain their workers
  • Allow border exceptions for other critical workers from other needy industries such as hospitality, and to extend the number of working hours for those on student visas.

Hilariously, as Australia’s and New Zealand’s hospitality industries lobby for cheap foreign workers, restauranteurs across the US have discovered a surefire way to overcome labour shortages: offering better wages and conditions:

An ice cream parlor in Pittsburgh, Klavon’s Ice Cream, raised its wages to $15 an hour and filled all 15 open positions immediately without raising prices, and that raising the wages also boosted morale and expanded their customer base…

Cohen said most of her employees received raises between $8 and $10 an hour, and they had no problem finding workers as restaurants began reopening this spring…

“The only way to attract, not necessarily the people who left the industry, but newcomers to the industry, is we have to change the industry,” added Cohen. “We have to pay more, we have to make this a viable profession”…

&Pizza, a pizza chain in six states and Washington DC, raised wages at the start of the pandemic… Owner Michael Lastoria said the chain has opened 11 new locations through the pandemic, and had no trouble in hiring new workers…

Fancy that. Offer better wages and so-called labour shortages disappear. But if you continue offering crappy wages and conditions, then labour shortages will remain. It is called a “labour market” for a reason – it too is subject to the laws of supply and demand.

It’s funny how the hospitality industry only believes in supply and demand and “the market” when it allows them to keep pay low.

Unconventional Economist


  1. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Had a surreal experience this morning
    Sitting in doctor’s surgery and a courier drops in to make a delivery . Shock of shocks she was an Anglo
    Australian in her late 60s to early 70s
    HTF did she get the skills needed to get that job ?

    • Steady on with the inverted racycsm mate, her skilled driver was probably waiting kerb side/sarc
      In my neck of woods 2 out of 3 local servos staffed by middle aged Anglo women Shell & an independent. Other seems to rotate 3-4 highly skilled shelf fillers, box ticking,
      Button pushing, floor cleaning furrrainers:) #more sarcasm. & more raycism ….plenty of Anglo folk – myself included used to do this job, unfortunately no guarantee of home ownership at the end as pay was basic. Got skilled up at customer service & interacting with people & moved on. Many used to do it full time etc.

  2. Ahhh, Pittsburgh, you say. My employer has an office there. Some amusing person made it so that the ‘affordable-housing’ short link pointed to the Pittsburgh office web-page. Zillow puts Pittsburgh’s “typical house price” at around $240k. So does Redfin.

    Turns out when everyone has a lower cost base, the economy is a bit more flexible. High land prices in Australia are a catastrophe… businesses are being squeezed by land costs and so many of them can’t afford to increase wages without also cranking up prices to the point where sales will drop substantially.

    • Bang on the money. Fixed costs are much higher in Australia, especially land. Unless a restaurant marks up the prices exorbitantly, there is no way it can pay staff at Australian median salary levels.

  3. How long does it take to train up a barista for a run-of-the-mill cafe? Honest question.

    • I’d guess maybe a four hour coffee course and then a week or two of on the job training?

      This is as somebody who has proper barista training at a speciality coffee roaster as an enthusiast (commercial machine at home), but I’ve never worked in hospitality so not 100% sure.

    • Hospitality has been reluctant to train staff since forever. Always wanting staff with several years’ experience, paying cash in hand etc. The difference is that last century at least some venues were forced to train staff, in the last few decade it was all too easy to hire migrants. Won’t hurt to have hire junior staff and train them up!

    • True story: about 10 years ago, 20 year old cousin went to see a GP. Completed patient registration form. Under occupation he wrote ‘barista’, which he was. Receptionist receives form, takes a look at form, takes a look at cousin, then blurts out “gee, you’re young for a barrister!”

    • I miss the olden days when there was infinitely less coffee [email protected] and the person who made the coffee did the coffees and was not called a barista and was not required to do a BS course to warm milk. They got good at coffee making cos someone – a cafe proprietor or manager showed them how because their business success depended on it …pride & value. Now some middle aged millennial wanna be pretences over bean quality, drip speed etc Try cleaning the machine for decent coffeee

  4. Can it explain restaurants in Portugal:

    The Portuguese population has declined in the last decade

    Between 2009 and 2018, the country’s resident population decreased by around 297,000 people, falling to 10.3 million.

  5. MathiasMEMBER

    Work has just become a substitution scam to pay down someones Mortgage.

    Its like, ” Hey. I dont want to pay it off myself. So I’ll get some idiot to do it for me. ”

    So here we are, angry we cant find someone to pay off our mortgages, complaining we will have to work for ourselves if these migrants dont keep coming.

    Australias not run by Business Leaders. Its run by Scam Artists.

    If you can take $100 in your pocket and turn that into $200, your an enterpreneur. If you need a million dollars to make $100, your not an enterpreneur.

    Although, yes… high house prices are definitely destroying Australias Business Potential. OBVIOUSLY… because rents have been driven up on small business and they either compete or fold ( which most are forced to do ).

    With the Aging Crisis sitting atop of Australian Society, the debt Liabilities on this Nation are just too big. At some point, its all just going to turn Australias Society Catatonic until the young find ways around the system completely. Interest Rates have collapsed like a rock. Thats telling us something really very important. Its telling us, ” Too many retirees. Not enough workforce. Australias future is going to collapse. We can not sustain all these Old People on the Pension System. Its killing us. “.

    So sure, you can go the ” Migrate younger workforce ” path. The more people we bring into Australia, the more the cost of living is going to rise. So House Prices Rise, Electricity Rises, Water Rises, Food Rises until eventually, the cost of living in this Country gets so damn expensive that society collapses to standstill… or we end up a migrant revolution as they all try and take over the Country ( which I suspect isnt far away lol ). NSW looks like it runs Australia already and I’ll gladly shove my fist where the sun dont shine. They cant even run there own state or fix a mouse plague, they are hardly in any position to dictate to the rest of us. NSW is migrants trying to take over Australia, thats what I think.

    There are many experts ( *cough* ) all across the globe and I watch many of them daily. There is only ONE who has any solution to the Aging Crisis and he is on MB.

    I was speaking to a guy about this earlier. Either the young kill the Boomers or the Boomers kill the young. On present trajectory, there will be no choice. Its going to get that bad.

    • I don’t really even believe there’s much of a thing as an “ageing crisis” – I think it’s a fairly hypothetical concern. If we aim for productivity increases through more automation and better use of technology, then we don’t have much of a problem. The more efficiently we can use resources (including labour), the less need there is for a growing population to provide for society (including more older people).

      I mean, we see this with agriculture technology – at one time in human history, we literally needed to have most of the population dedicating their lives to farming to be able to produce enough food. By 1901, 14% of Australia’s population (not counting Aboriginal people back in those days, so even more actually) were farmers, and now it’s closer to 1%. That’s why we can get away with now so much of our population doing BS jobs that hardly achieve anything – because we are actually able to meet everybody’s actual material needs with a smaller subset of the population.

      I feel like we should still aim for about replacement though (more through birth than migration), but not too much more.

  6. Is there a shortage of third world migrant guestworkers?

    I don’t think so.

    Migrant non resident snapshot June 2021.
    (DHA / ABF & ABS).

    1.9 million non Australian foreign nationals on PR.
    Sucking up our Centrelink & Medicare.
    Or as we now see / tens if not hundreds of thousands of them were actually back in India, China, Bangladesh, Nepal – sucking up our welfare & now trying to get back in to maintain their Centrelink payments..

    A PR intake of third world detritus, lowlife, unskilled, useless, who are now a huge social & economic burden on Australia.
    Lower than average job vocations & incomes, high welfare dependency, high crime rates, non assimilated, needy, ideological and political extremism.

    A decade long mistake in migrant intake selection.

    Remember these PR are NON Australians, foreign nationals, only given permanent residency, they do not belong and do not identify with being Australian.


    Plus we have another 2.4 million non Australian foreign nationals on TR (1.7 million) or SCV (680,000)

    So the PR (1.9 million) and the TR / SCV (2.4 million) combined is a total of 4.3 million non Australian foreign nationals in a population of 25.7 million.

    1 in every 6 people in Australia a foreign national.

    👉🏾More than Gaddafi at his peak.

    90% of the non Australian foreign nationals are concentrated in Sydney or Melbourne (ABS)

    Nearly 2 million are now in each city.

    👉🏾 40% of the people in Sydney or Melbourne are non Australian foreign nationals on a PR or pretext TR or SCV visa. Amazing isn’t it?
    There is no shortage..

    Concentrated even further into vast fetid migrant ghettos.
    Ex Australian housing, whole suburbs, huge swathes of both cities bought up by foreign criminal syndicates in money laundering, the Australians fled or were dumped on the street, and then rented out in cash in hand migrant only slum share.
    116,000 Australian permanent homeless, 340,000 seeking affordable housing. Well over 1.5 million Australians were evicted in a suburb by suburb mass ethnic cleansing of Australians from the two main cities.
    Replaced by over 4 million third world migrants occupying their housing at 2x, 3x, 4x the dwelling occupancy density.

    (Burwood or Strathfield – 1 white Australian family in a 2 bed unit, say an average 3 person occupancy density)
    Then unit or block bought with foreign dirty money laundered by a PR to avoid FIRB, the Australians are all evicted & now 8 Chinese now live there in squalor and cash in hand bunk share)


    The ‘non PR’ foreign nationals.

    We have 2,385,000 foreign nationals on a TR or NZ SCV in Australia.
    How many of third world unskilled origin?
    Over 2.1 million or 85%.
    We have 1.7 million unskilled third world migrant guestworkers on pretext TR visas. Almost 100% of third world or unskilled origin.
    Plus 350,000 of the 680,000 NZ SCV are non NZ born third world unskilled who sneak in via the NZ SCV loophole.

    So that’s 2,050,000 third world lowlife slum clearance and rurals trafficked in to Australia to live & work illegally.

    Stealing at least 1.5 million Australian jobs..
    Stealing 2 million Australians accomodation.
    Creating vast non assimilated migrant only bunk share squalid slum enclaves.
    (Where do you think they all live & how?)

    👉🏾There is no shortage.

    And specific to the TR visa category.
    Many are in visa breach.
    Many have no funds / never did, they lied.
    False documents.
    Fake courses.
    Fake visa pretext.
    Falsified health check – foreign agent doctors.

    🔻They work illegally and create Australian unemployment
    🔻They create housing contention & homelessness
    🔻They lower Australians wages
    🔻They lower our Australian gdp per Capita
    🔻They work and live in a foreign criminal run black market cash economy, foreign run labour rings, no taxation paid.
    🔻They degraded our education as it prostituted itself as a migrant guestworker visa alibi.
    🔻They congest our infrastructure
    🔻They add to our emissions (😏..)
    🔻They are the epicentre of vice & crime.

    And they are a clear & present bio security risk in being both a vector of virus contagion into Australia, as well as an incubation hub and transmission vector of the disease to the Australian community.

    Facts are we have a surplus of migrant guestworkers.
    An overshoot in fact.
    Millions more than we need.

    They are a risk to our society, our well being and our standard of living.

    When will we see a round up and deportation of these millions of third world migrant guestworkers?

    • Rounding everyone up you blame for eveything and deporting them, would almost certainly not work, but if it’s sells memberships and swastikas, why not say it!

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Whats clearly not working is our democratic process.
        I don’t like Mike’s fascistic talk of “Rounding people up” either Bento.
        His blaming people wanting to live somewhere “better” than where they came from isn’t targeting the people responsible for the excess of immigration we have had into this country.
        Its big business lobby groups in alliance with the Media and all the traitors who toe the plutocratic line (Right wing) within our Parliaments.
        All the elites are in on it including the #FakeLeftists of the Greens and ALP along with the LNP.

        What I find so amazing is the information,…the Numbers!,…Mike quotes to us in these little rants of his.

        If the are correct (Are they MB fact checkers?) then I am astounded that I hear NO ONE in the media Or politics repeating these FACTS.
        Why such a conspiracy of silence?
        How is such overwhelmingly damning information kept out of the public mind for so long?
        The silence on this stuff is Orwellian if Mikes figures are true.
        I have not read or heard them anywhere else!

        This kind of suppression of the truth is just as authoritarian and fascistic as people with swastikas rounding people up, especially when the people in that Society think they live in a democracy!
        It’s a kinda of propaganda,…an ability to control information that goes beyond the wildest dreams of Goebbels himself!

        • Fully agree with the sentiment and ideas expressed EP – and I know you’re a fair minded individual based on the consistency of your messages and posts. I have even tried to engage with Labor locally based on these posts….unfortunately they asked me not to call them again. Truth seeking makes them all uncomfortable, as they only learn how to appear trustworthy and effective at politics school, they rarely need to go beyond this step. The fascists in government or the fascists blaming foreigners can all get in the bin and leave it to a proper representative government to figure out… how do we get that again?

          Re the numbers – problem here are the emotive descriptions and loaded language. He uses it as a weapon against poor people and races he hates – just like the government! He is probably a numberwanger just like the government!

          • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

            My main point is that If its not Numberwang on Mikes part then we have No democratic debate or representation at all in this Country.
            So,…Why are we all pretending we do live in a democracy!
            The fascism you fear (or like) is NOW!

          • EP – I fear it. I’m actively working against it. I understand the issues in immigration, business and the financial economy pretty well. My approach is engaging one person at a time in my community, and trying to set an example. Not sure what else works. I’ve thought of getting involved in politics but I’m a pretty unlikable, grumpy person when I encounter idiots…. so completely devoid of the skills required.

        • “It’s a kinda of propaganda,…an ability to control information that goes beyond the wildest dreams of Goebbels himself!”

          I hope you understand how much hyperbole this actually is.
          MB and it’s commenters would be shot or in a concentration camp if this was occupied europe, except for the minor detail that this wasn’t even possible with the technology of the day.
          That doesn’t make it good, but the sort of censorship conducted on both sides in WW2 has been made difficult to impossible by modern tech.

        • drsmithyMEMBER

          I have asked for decent (ie: easily verifiable) references for his numbers for years.

          The one time I attempted to track some of them down (few years back now), the original sources I found showed discrepancies of anywhere from 10% to 50%. It also became clear that many of the numbers stated are not directly published, but derived from other metrics or “estimated”. Ie: there is a non-trivial amount of work in creating them. That was about the point when I stopped bothering.

          Anyone doing this seriously (eg: Macrobusiness) would be keeping both references to original data and details of the calculations, transformations and logic applied so they could be easily updated as new datasets are released. And this working has never been shown.

          So my guess is a lot of these have been pulled over a wide period of time from random sources ranging in authority from the ABS to Chinese-whispered Facebook comments, and then massaged with some arbitrary multipliers based on age, and others just made up roughly in line so as to seem believable.

          Consequently, credibility is very low, even before considering the generous sprinklings of derogatory and loaded language throughout.

        • lol
          Arguing for the rounding up and deportation of millions = facts without emotion

          I like migrants. I like Aussies. What are Aussies anyway? I agree migration policy is screwed and corrupt – mostly by Aussies – but I still like Aussies. Some are just pricks. So are the migrants who rip some Aussies off and take advantage. Some migrants are pricks. I agree that the numbers (the actual ones) would reveal a lot of bad s**t about a lot of people. I just don’t believe in his final solution, if you know what I mean. If they all left he’d start on someone else I’m sure of it. If he was north of the river, he’d blame those south of the river. If he was in WA, he’d argue for secession from the Commonwealth. Some people just frame their whole argument in a dumb way that welcomes ridicule.

    • The answer to your deportation question is never.

      We’ll be getting at least 10 million more Indians, Nepalese, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis over the next 20 years.

      • Australian cricket has never had a brighter future! The products of the subcontinental diaspora are the new Irish, and I for one, welcome our new cover-driving & off-spinning overlords.

        • About the only thing most of the above lot will be doing is uber driving. I don’t blame them like Mike MB, but he is not wrong on the sheer numbers, nor their living conditions.

          Australia has been engaged in a third world slave racket in plain sight for nearly 20 years. All at the behest of a plutocracy committed to suppressing wages and driving up land values.

  7. AndynycMEMBER

    Now only if “our ABC” would get the message. Listening to the enlightened people at ABC National makes me want to punch someone.

    • Talking about Mike or smithy’s figures is banned on the ABC. No one is permitted to speak on the subject. They are both far too racist, as are all the contributors to these posts. There are an extra million people here in Melbourne over the last 10 years. That it why it is such an unlivable place. Come down from QLD and have a look smithy.