Restaurant Employment Trends

Restaurant Job Growth Hit an 18-Year High in 2013; Continued Gains Projected in 2014

The National Restaurant Association's Chief Economist Bruce Grindy looks back at 2013 job growth and offers projections for 2014

National Restaurant Association The National Restaurant Association's Chief Economist Bruce Grindy looks back at 2013 job growth and offers projections for 2014: 

"The restaurant industry remained among the economy's leaders in job creation in 2013, and the trend is expected to continue in 2014.  Eating-and-drinking places – the primary component of the restaurant industry which accounts for roughly three-fourths of the total restaurant-and-foodservice workforce – added jobs at a robust 3.7 percent rate in 2013, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

Graph - Restaurant Job Growth

"The solid 2013 performance represented the strongest gain since a 3.9 percent jump in 1995, and came on the heels of a 3.5 percent increase in restaurant jobs in 2012.  Taken together, 2012 and 2013 represented the first time in nearly two decades that the restaurant industry posted back-to-back gains above 3 percent. 

"In comparison, total U.S. employment increased at a 1.7 percent rate in 2013, or two full percentage-points below the increase in eating-and-drinking place jobs.  This disparity is nothing new, as 2013 represented the 14th consecutive year in which restaurant job growth outpaced the overall economy.  In fact, during the last 14 years, the number of eating-and-drinking-place jobs soared 29 percent, while total U.S. employment rose by just over 5 percent.

"Job growth within the restaurant industry was broad-based in 2013, with several of the major segments registering strong gains.  Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars – including coffee, donut and ice cream shops – set the pace with a robust 5.8 percent employment gain.  Quickservice restaurants (4.5 percent), tableservice restaurants (3.4 percent) and foodservice contractors (3.3 percent) also added jobs at rates well above the overall economy in 2013. 

"Looking ahead to 2014, job growth in the restaurant industry is projected to remain strong, albeit somewhat slower than the torrid pace registered in 2013.  The National Restaurant Association expects restaurants to add jobs at a 2.8 percent rate in 2014, a full percentage-point above the projected 1.8 percent gain in total U.S. employment.  

"The projected 2014 gain will represent fourth consecutive year in which the industry registered job growth in excess of 2.5 percent.  Meanwhile, the overall economy hasn't posted job growth above 2.5 percent since 1998."

Read more from the Economist's Notebook.  For additional analysis of restaurant industry trends, log on to Restaurant TrendMapper (subscription required).

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 990,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13.5 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show (NRA Show May 17-20, 2014, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids' menu options.

Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.