Los Angeles, CA

Are Los Angeles workers really turning down $120,000 jobs?

Eugene Adams

Photo by Kate Townsend on Unsplash

Would you accept a $120,000 job?

Even in Los Angeles, that’s good money. 

A doctor or a lawyer wouldn’t switch careers for that money. But, what if you are a waiter? 

Would a waiter really turn down $120,000?

According to Wolfgang Puck, that is exactly what Los Angeles residents are doing. 

$120,000 Waiters

The restaurant industry was hit hard by Covid. Even the likes of Wolfgang Puck struggled. 

Despite winning two Michelin stars, Puck hasn’t been able to open more than 20 of his restaurants. That includes CUT in Beverly Hills

The reason? 

A lack of workers

“People get paid really well. Still, it’s difficult to find people to work. At Chinois in Santa Monica it’s the same thing. I cannot open for lunchtime. Or even at Spago in Beverly Hills, you know, where people, waiters, make $120,000 a year. But I cannot find them.”-Wolfgang Puck

He is very clear that demand is not the issue. It is definitely a lack of workers. 

“The demand is definitely there. We get enough customers, but we cannot serve them. In an upscale environment, you have to give people great food and great service. So it’s difficult to find enough people.”-Wolfgang Puck

Is immigration to blame?

Would more immigration help? Wolfgang Puck certainly thinks so. 

“I think the government really should loosen up and have cooks come, if it’s from France or Italy or from South America or wherever, so we can get the workforce up to par. If they are professional, why not get jobs? And then they pay taxes, and everything will get better.”-Wolfgang Puck

My Thoughts

The economic reopening from Covid has not been as smooth as people hoped. 

Job vacancies are at an all-time high. Employers all over the country are having trouble filling those positions

Many factors contribute to the huge amount of open positions. 


Many people blamed enhanced unemployment. They feel that it makes not working too profitable. 

This probably contributes to the problem. However, it’s not that simple. There are many other problems as well. 


Some Los Angeles residents aren’t ready to return to work. They are still afraid of Covid. We spent over a year listening to how scary Covid is. 

Fear is not a switch that you can flip on and off. 

Other Priorities 

Mike Draper, The owner of a clothing store, RAYGUN shirts, offered an interesting insight

“We have come up with a plan for employee retention that kind of takes a lot of things into account. That includes not just pay but how people are treated and what type of work environment it is.” Mike Draper

Some workers are feed up with the status quo. They want real change, not just more pay. 


Money obviously matters. Los Angeles is not a cheap place to live, after all. 

However, Wolfgang Puck would be better served to take a more holistic approach. 

Some people want better pay. 

Some want more safety. 

Some want flexibility. 

Some want a better work-life balance.

Some want to be challenged. 

Wolfgang Puck would do well to figure out what exactly Los Angeles workers are looking for because throwing money at them doesn’t seem to be working. 

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Certified Personal Trainer | Certified ESL Teacher |I mostly write about all things Southern California, but I also cover national topics.

Fontana, CA

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