U.S. Restaurant Employment Trends

Restaurants Are Filling All Rungs on the Career Ladder

Half of limited-service restaurant job openings in 2016 were filled by either new entrants to the workforce or people being promoted, according to the NRA’s chief economist.

National Restaurant Association

The restaurant industry has long been the primary training ground for new entrants to the workforce. In fact, roughly one-third of all U.S. adults say their first job experience was in the restaurant and foodservice industry, according to NRA research.

The industry continued to provide opportunities for new workers in 2016, with restaurant operators reporting that roughly one in four of their job openings were filled by people for whom this was the first regular job that they have ever had. 

Graph - Percent of 2016 Restaurant Job Openings

The limited-service segment was the most likely to hire new workers, with 36 percent of quickservice openings and 27 percent of fast-casual job openings going to people getting their first work experience. 

One in five jobs at family-dining and casual-dining restaurants went to first-time workers in 2016, while nine percent of openings in the fine-dining segment were filled by new entrants to the workforce.

In addition to providing job opportunities for new entrants to the workforce, many jobs are also filled by people advancing from other positions within a restaurant. As employees gather the on-the-job training and knowledge of the operation, they are often the ideal candidates for more senior positions in the restaurant.

In 2016, approximately one in five job openings were filled by people who were promoted from other jobs within the same restaurant business. This trend was strikingly similar across each of the five major segments, with the family-dining and casual-dining segments only slightly ahead of the others at 22 percent.

In total, roughly one-half of limited-service restaurant job openings in 2016 were filled by either new entrants to the workforce or people being promoted from other positions within the same restaurant. On the tableservice side, approximately four in 10 family-dining and casual-dining job openings and one in four fine-dining openings went to either first-time workers or promotions in 2016.



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