Restaurants and bars are close to pre-pandemic employment

Female waitress noting an order on notepad in kitchen at hotel
Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy

Bureau of Labor Statistics data released last week showed that restaurant employment is getting close to pre-pandemic levels and the National Restaurant Association said that it will surpass pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.

According to the BLS data, leisure and hospitality added a total of 105,000 jobs in February – a little bit higher than the average monthly gain of 91,000 over the prior six months. In the food services and drinking places category, 70,000 jobs were added last month.

However, overall employment in leisure and hospitality is below its pre-pandemic February 2020 level by 410,000. This category included restaurants, hotels, arts, entertainment such as theme parks, and other tourism-oriented businesses, per Business Insider.

Last week, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Congressional leaders about the state of the restaurant industry, which was hit hard by COVID-19 regulations.

“The restaurant and foodservice industry is fueling the American economy,” said the association. “Its hiring rate and wage increases are outpacing the overall private sector, and this year it is expected to contribute nearly $1 trillion to the economy. In addition, the Association forecasts that the industry will add 500,000 jobs – bringing total industry employment to 15.5. million by the end of 2023, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.”

Indeed, Business Insider reported Tuesday that “restaurants, bars, and hotels can’t hire fast enough to fill jobs,” due to a surge in demand in travel and dining.

Citing U.S. Census Bureau data, the outlet said that sales at food services and drinking places in January were up 7.2% compared to December and 25.2% compared to the previous year. As the restaurant industry prepares to add jobs, reports have been rolling in about layoffs in technology, including Twitter, Telsa, Meta, and Disney.

Restaurants are the cornerstone of every community, providing jobs, adding to the local tax base, and supporting the region,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association. In its letter to Congress, the organization asked for help to support the industry.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images