Lake Balaton

SME owners near Lake Balaton cannot find workforce because of the labour shortage so they have to pay high wages for their employees. Many think that this is why prices extremely high in the shops near the lake. 

Economists and teachers making lángos

According to, employers no longer advertise new open positions because there is little chance to find somebody for the job. The situation is the same everywhere around the lake, reporters of the Hungarian daily could find only one shop where there were enough employees; a family business where members of the family work and enable it to open each day.

My parents started as lángos (a deep fried flat bread made of dough) makers and their business developed a lot during the years. Today it has evolved to a kind of restaurant-pub but they preserved the original menu of lángos, pancake and hake (the cult Hungarian summer fish food). While we were children we worked together with my little sister during the whole season but after we went to university my parents hired employees.

I thought then that I will never have to stand to make lángos in 50 degrees again.”

– said Ádám. 

He graduated as an economist in Budapest while his sister became a teacher and their parents continued to operate their restaurant without them.

However, everything changed in 2017. Their father said then that instead of 5 he could hire only two workers so they could not open during the season. Of course, they decided to help their parents, her sister went home to make lángos after the summer vacation started while Ádám went on holiday in July to help in the most difficult part of the season. And this is not because their parents do not want to pay enough for their employees. People do not come even if they are offered 1,500 EUR/month net (a teacher in Hungary gets approximately 500 EUR/month net) because

the job is very hard,

hours are long and one has to work 26-27 days/month. Therefore, people go to work as bartenders in the nearby bars which is much less trying.

Salaries are skyrocketing

Those who come do not want to work,

they only want to get money

– said a restaurant owner in Balatonfenyves. He added that before he agreed with university students at the beginning of the season in a salary but now it can happen that even if they agree in something workers abandon him in the middle of the season to work for more in another nearby restaurant.

On the southern bank of Lake Balaton employers offer 3.5-4 EUR/hour net for waiters and waitresses and 5 EUR/hour net for cooks.

A restaurant owner of Balatonboglár said that most of the

employees are working undeclared

because this is much cheaper not only for the employers but also for the workers. This is how a waiter/waitress can get more than 1,500 EUR per month for 14-15 hours/day working time and it can also happen that a cook receives more than 3,300 EUR/month net which is regarded to be extremely high in Hungary where the average net salary does not reach 800 EUR.

Labour shortage affects everybody

Not only restaurants and pubs but also shops are struggling hard with labour shortage near Lake Balaton. István, a shop owner, said to Népszava that 3-4 years before he gave 10 EUR per day for his employees and everything was OK. Now the negotiations start from 33 EUR so he hired only one employee for this year’s season and he himself sat in the cashier’s desk.

A restaurant owner in Fonyód said that

this is why prices are very high.

For example, lángos cannot be bought for less than 1.5 EUR but there are places where its price is more than 3 EUR. Of course, guests are constantly complaining because of the high prices but profitability has to be retained somehow.

According to SME owners near Lake Balaton, the situation has even worsened since the last season because most employees who abandoned Hungary previous fall to continue their work in ski paradises in Western-Europe do not want to come home. And owners expect nothing better for the next season, too. This is why they say that half of the businesses operating currently around the lake can disappear forever in 5 years’ time.

The situation is the same near other lakes in Hungary, for example, Lake Tisza.


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