Restaurants In Need of Workers
From The World Journal
November 18, 2003
Until recently, the demand for restaurant jobs on East Broadway
in Chinatown exceeded the supply. Job placement centers in the
neighborhood were swarmed every Monday in a scene that placement
workers described reminiscently as “the good old days.” These
crowds are no longer seen. Though restaurateurs from other states
have offered higher pay, the reaction from job seekers are lukewarm.
New immigrants looking for work say it is risky to work in "faraway" states,
which “censor documents strictly.”
Monday is the off-day
for many restaurant workers from China’s
Fujian Province; it is also the busiest day in Chinatown. But recently
the usual hustling at job placement centers on Forsyth and Eldridge
streets is hard to find. In fact, “Help Wanted” advertisements
covered the fronts of counters here. Few had been taken by interested
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. federal government
has strengthened scrutiny of undocumented immigrants, said Li Qing
at the Fu Mei
Job Placement Service on East Broadway. He said immigration officers
are even stopping buses on highways to check the passengers’ IDs,
which makes journeys long, risky and uncertain for immigrants.
If caught, undocumented workers will be deported to China, losing
the tens of thousands of dollars they had paid to human traffickers
who brought them here.
Fu Yishan runs a restaurant in Ohio, and
has been looking in vain for employers for three days. He said
his stir-fry chef was on
wedding leave this week, and he was looking for somebody to substitute
him. He has found few job seekers, and most of them were unwilling
to work outside the New York State.
Analysts said another reason
for the job glut is that the number of restaurants has soared,
but the number of newly arrived immigrants
has not. Fu Yishan said restaurants run by people from Fuzhou,
the capital of Fujian, are almost everywhere in the United
States, where people can easily find jobs. The immigrant population
changed as well. Many used to be stowaways, but now most immigrants
come with legal visas and are less willing to do menial restaurant
work. Some restaurateurs have raised monthly wages to $1,900
or even $2,200, but still have attracted little interest.
Some job placement centers have become more innovative. For
example, they offer shuttle bus service or provide jobs tailored
A husband might stir-fry while his wife helps him, with a combined
monthly salary of $4,100 for the two of them. Still, not many
are interested. Job seeker Wang Changzhi said there are many
than before, and that he has plenty of time to balance them.
He said he wanted to find a job close to the New York City,
where he feels at home and has few language or communication
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Translated from Chinese by Shasha Dai