Have you ever wondered how the restaurant business stacks up next to industry-wide averages when it comes to job growth? Well, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) is weighing in, and the answer may come as a pleasant surprise for bar and restaurant workers.
Not only does the restaurant industry consistently outpace the national average for job growth year after year, but experts even credit its impact as a factor in the rebounding of the overall economy.
Let’s take a closer look at the latest NRA data, along with what it means for the restaurant industry and economy at large.
A Look Back at Restaurant Job Growth
2015 was a great year for the national labor market — the strongest yet since the recession. Leading the charge? The restaurant industry.
Not only did food and beverage establishments continue their 16-year streak among the economy’s leading job creators, but the industry’s impressive 3.2 percent gain in jobs bested the total economy’s 2.1 percent rate of growth by a whole percentage point.
Employment levels also well outpaced the national average, coming in at 38 percent and 10 percent, respectively, over the same period of time.
While the majority of major restaurant industry segments fared well in terms of job growth in 2015, some posted more noteworthy gains than others.
According to the NRA report, the “snack-and-nonalcoholic-beverage-bar segment,” which comprises coffee, donuts and ice cream shops, came out on top last year with a significant 6.5 percent employment gain. Also faring well? The quick service and table service segments each posted solid gains in 2015 at rates of 3.4 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.
The ADP National Franchise Report, meanwhile, identified another top growth area: franchise businesses. In fact, of the 48,600 jobs added at industry-wide franchise businesses in the month of December of 2015 alone, a full two-thirds of these — or 32,700 in total — originated from the restaurant business.
This trend was consistent throughout the year with franchised restaurants accounting for 215,000 of the total 376,000 jobs added by franchise businesses.
A Look Ahead at Predicted Restaurant Job Growth
But can we expect more of the same in the year ahead when it comes to job growth in the restaurant industry? According to NRA Chief Economist Bruce Grindy, the future looks bright.
Grindy predicts the addition of a whopping 300,000 jobs in 2016, which he also projects will outpace the overall economy over the course of the year. The total anticipated growth rate among eating and drinking establishments anticipated by Grindy in 2016? 3.0 percent.
And while this is a slight slowdown from last year, it still trumps the overall economy, which hasn’t managed to match this pace in more than two decades.
There are a couple caveats worth noting when considering these figures, however. While restaurants may be adding more jobs, they’re also more likely to be either part-time or seasonal.
In fact, compared to the 69 percent of full-time U.S. workforce employees, only 43 percent of restaurant workers have full-time jobs.
Furthermore, while concerns about higher minimum wages leading to hiring problems have been somewhat mitigated, increased competition for workers combined with the escalating wages is likely to lead to corresponding spikes in labor costs for restaurants.
Still, there’s plenty of reason to celebrate this ongoing job rate uptick. First is that fact that experts suggest that the restaurant business has played a central role in the economy’s comeback thanks to a significant 21 percent increase in restaurant jobs since the recovery began — more than twice the 10 percent gains seen elsewhere throughout the economy.
Second is the fact that adding employees is one of the best indications of confidence in future sales.
And this good news isn’t limited to the restaurant industry, either. Why? Because adding jobs is ultimately a response to increased demand — demand which would not exist if people were afraid of becoming unemployed.
In other words, increases in the amount of people eating out is also a promising indicator of a strengthening economy.