Record number of workers quit hospitality jobs, experts cite mental health as common reason –

ST. LOUIS — Many of us know someone who has left their job during the pandemic in search of another position. 
A new study says more workers quit their jobs in September than ever before. According to the U.S. Labor Department, more than 4.4 million workers quit their jobs voluntarily in September. 
That number is up from the 4.3 million people we saw leaving their jobs in August 2021.
RELATED: For 2nd straight month, Americans quit jobs at a record pace
Almost one million workers quit in the leisure and hospitality industry alone. 
5 On Your Side talked with a restaurant recruiter for the St. Louis area and a former restaurant worker about some of the top reasons why people are leaving their hospitality jobs during the pandemic. 
They both say workers are looking for an industry with more job security and many employees are making the switch to protect their mental health. 
Andrew Viragh, the owner of Sonder Hospitality and a restaurant recruiter and advisor, says, “…what has typically lacked in our industry is the stability around work life balance, family priorities, mental health, which is a huge deficit in our industry. And ultimately, the people that were leaving were really just looking to fill those deficits that our industry had.” 
A former restaurant worker, Jessica Silas, was laid off during the pandemic for about five months. After returning to the industry later in the pandemic, Jessica decided the job no longer suited her. She decided to leave the industry permanently after two weeks back at work. 
Silas says, “There was no security there, and there was no respect there. There was no health care. There was no health insurance. There was no paid time off. There was nothing but hard work.” 
According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, people working in hospitality and food services have the highest rates of substance abuse disorders. Almost 20 percent of full-time industry employees are involved in illicit drug use and about 12 percent of workers report heavy alcohol use. 
This week on 5 on Your Side, we will hear more from experts about how the worker shortage is impacting the St. Louis area.
MORE: Despite labor shortages, people say it’s still hard to find a job
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