A new report by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) shows that the restaurant industry continues to outpace overall U.S. employment growth. In the 12 months ending June 2012, eating and drinking place employment spiked 2.7 percent, more than double the 1.3 percent increase in total U.S. employment during the same period.
Restaurants have added more than 575,000 jobs since the employment recovery began in March 2010, with current industry staffing levels standing 193,000 jobs above the pre-recession peak. Restaurant industry job growth slowed along with the rest of the economy during the second quarter of 2012, but remains a net contributor to the economic recovery. The restaurant industry is the nation’s second-largest private sector employer with a workforce of nearly 13 million – almost 10 percent of the U.S. workforce.
“While restaurant industry job growth is not immune to the ups and downs of the overall economy, our industry has continually been at the forefront of job creation for the last two years,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
Restaurant industry sales are gaining for the third consecutive year, spurring the nation’s nearly one million restaurants to staff up to meet the increasing demand for away-from-home meals.
The NRA projects that restaurant industry sales will exceed $632 billion this year, a 3.5 percent increase over 2011 sales. This is the third consecutive year that industry sales will post real gains, driven by moderate improvements in consumer’s disposable income and gradual release of pent-up demand for restaurant visits. One out of three (33 percent) Americans say they are not dining out as often as they would like, down from two out of five (40 percent) just one year ago.
According to the NRA’s latest monthly Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey (June 2012), restaurant operators continue to plan for staffing increases in the second half of 2012. Twenty percent of restaurant operators plan to increase staffing levels in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while only 8 percent said they expect to reduce staffing levels in six months. Seventy-two percent of operators said they expect their staffing levels to remain unchanged through the end of the year.
To help develop high quality employees that will be the industry leaders of tomorrow, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart program supports more than 90,000 high school students across the nation through culinary and restaurant management education. Over the past 15 years, NRAEF has granted more than $14 million in scholarships to students and educators, giving them a jumpstart on successful careers.