The Fed chair asked Cheetie Kumar, a restaurant owner in Raleigh, North Carolina, why she has had such trouble finding workers.
Kumar told Powell that many of her former employees have decided to permanently leave the restaurant industry.
Kumar said her restaurant now pays a minimum of $18 an hour, and she added that higher wages are likely a long-term change for the restaurant industry.
â€œWe cannot get by and pay people $13 an hour and expect them to stay with us for years and years,â€ Kumar said.
Jill Rizika, president of Towards Employment, a workforce development nonprofit in Cleveland, said she sees the striking disconnect every day between companies that are posting millions of job openings and people who are struggling to find work and escape poverty.
Larry Andrews, president of Massachusetts Growth Capital, a state agency that supports small businesses, said that on a recent tour of the state, one cafÃ© owner told him that a case of eggs had skyrocketed in price since the pandemic hit
Another restaurant owner said that a jug of cooking oil had risen from $17 to $50 â€” â€œif you can get it.â€