According to a report just out from the National Restaurant Association (NRA), restaurant job growth reached a 17-year high last year. That means that restaurant jobs were added at double the rate of the overall economy in 2012, and the NRA expects this trend to continue in 2013. The report is based on the NRA’s analysis of new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Overall, restaurant employment currently stands 441,000 jobs above its high-point before the recession, while the overall economy is still down 3.2 million jobs from the pre-recession peak.
“The sizable disparity in 2012 job growth marked the continuation of a long-term trend,” said Bruce Grindy, chief economist for the National Restaurant Association. “In fact, during the last 13 years, the number of eating-and-drinking-place jobs jumped 25 percent, while total U.S. employment rose by only 4 percent.”
The NRA expects restaurants to add jobs at a 2.7 percent rate in 2013. “The projected 2013 gain will represent the 14th consecutive year in which restaurant industry job growth outpaces the overall economy, and the third consecutive year in which the industry registered job growth in excess of 2.5 percent,” Grindy added. “In comparison, the overall economy hasn’t posted job growth above 2.5 percent since 1998.”
With the release of the February 1 jobs report, BLS included revisions that gave a clearer picture of employment trends during and after the recession. Restaurant employment fell 3.9 percent during the recession, while the overall economy lost 6.3 percent of its employment base.
“The restaurant industry was certainly not immune from the effects of the Great Recession, with job losses in 2009 and 2010 representing just the second and third years on record that the industry cut staffing levels,” said Grindy. “However, the restaurant industry bounced back quickly after the recession, with January’s employment level up 8.8 percent from the bottom of the cycle. In comparison, total U.S. employment is only up 4.3 percent from the recession trough.”
The restaurant and foodservice industry remains the nation’s second largest private-sector employer with its workforce of 13.1 million.