There's been a lot of things that we've seen in the last year that are hard to believe. It's a lot of stuff we didn't see coming. The world was a little upside down (ok a lot) in the last year and a half. Finally the vaccines started rolling out. We were all expecting a return to normal, and in many ways it has come back. However, this labor shortage we are facing is another curveball thrown our way. The hardest job I had growing up that paid very little, now can pay upwards of $20/hr.

That job is a line cook at a restaurant. Many places are struggling to find line cooks. They are even offering to train people willing to learn because they are so desperate. We've seen some businesses like Shorty's close their doors because it was too hard to find help. Other bars and restaurants have limited hours or menus because of the staff shortages.

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I spoke with a restaurant owner who said it wouldn't matter if they paid $30 an hour or more, they still wouldn't find anyone. A simple search in job listings shows that in Duluth the minimum starting wage for a line cook starts at about $16 and hour. Some are hiring at $20 an hour. Most come with a sign on incentive. There's some jobs listed for experienced line cooks that can make $50,000 a year.

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It's hard to believe that a job where I maybe made 8 bucks an hour 20 years ago now pays $40,000 a year with benefits in some cases. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they are making money. It's just such a change in a short period of time it catches you off guard a little.

Being a line cook was for sure the toughest job I ever had. I've had some tough jobs too like loading trucks, working construction, and other things.

What makes it so hard? It's fast paced. It's hot. It's stressful, and you have to time everything out right. Orders can pile up and you can fall behind quickly. It's just a high stress environment and it's a very physical job being on your feet all night. I give line cooks a lot of credit because I know how hard it was.

A lot of business owners are blaming the unemployment benefits or "free handouts' from the government as a reason people aren't looking for work. The other side of the argument is from people saying that theses jobs need to be paying living wages.

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