U.S. Employment Trends

Restaurant Middle-class Job Growth Nearly Four Times Stronger Than Overall Economy

The restaurant industry has added middle class jobs at a rate nearly four time stronger than the overall economy during the current expansion, according to the NRA’s Chief Economist Bruce Grindy.

National Restaurant Association

From the beginning of the employment recovery in March 2010 through February 2017, the number of restaurant jobs in the U.S. increased 25 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  This was more the double the 12 percent gain in total U.S. jobs during the same period.

Not only are restaurants among the leaders in total job growth, they are also adding middle class jobs at a much stronger rate than the overall economy. 

Graph - Growth in middle class jobs

In fact, the restaurant industry added middle class jobs* at a rate nearly four times stronger than the overall economy during the recovery from the Great Recession, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.   

Between 2010 and 2015, the number of restaurant jobs with annual income between $45,000 and $74,999 jumped 42 percent.  In contrast, the total number of jobs in the U.S. economy with income in this range rose just 11 percent during the same period.

Due to the scheduling flexibility demanded by much of the industry workforce, most restaurant employees work on a part-time or part-year basis.  Only 44 percent of restaurant workers are full-time/full-year employees, compared to 70 percent of the total U.S. workforce. 

Graph - Distribution of Employees by Work Schedule

As a result, the restaurant industry is home to only 1.8 percent of all jobs in the economy with annual income between $45,000 and $74,999.

However, the restaurant industry was responsible for 5.4 percent of the net new middle class jobs added to the economy between 2010 and 2015, which is three times larger than its current share of these jobs.

*For the purposes of this analysis, middle class jobs are defined as those with annual income between $45,000 and $74,999



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