After being forced to shut down for several months last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the big challenge facing bars and restaurants now is finding enough workers to run their businesses.   Scott Widor says as the weather warms up a lot of customers are anxious for patio season, but getting those patios open isn’t as simple:

“We’ve never had problems you know filling front-of-the-house folks — servers, bartenders. Now we are having problems finding those. I know certain restaurants around town including mine …probably won’t open up patios until we find more people to work.”

Last week the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development said the state’s unemployment rate has dropped to 4.2 percent. DEED says Minnesota’s labor force participation rate right now is just 67.8 percent, down from 70.2 percent in February of last year before the pandemic.