NRA: Restaurant industry posts significant job growth


Restaurants are one of the key private-sector industries leading the United States in job recovery, having added more than 560,000 positions in the past 24 months, according to new analysis from the National Restaurant Association.

The NRA noted that 200,000 of those jobs were added in the past six months.

“The restaurant industry strongly contributes to the health of our nation’s economy by driving job growth across industry segments and providing rewarding career and employment opportunities for millions,” Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive of the NRA, said in a statement. “Whether in the kitchen or the corporate office, restaurants offer a variety of career paths, including one toward the American dream of entrepreneurship and owning your own business.”

Since national job growth began in March 2010, eating and drinking places — which account for three-fourths of the total restaurant industry workforce — have added 562,600 positions. Current employment levels stand at more than 180,000 positions above the industry’s pre-recession peak, the NRA added.

For the first time on record, restaurants added more than 100,000 jobs in two consecutive quarters. Positions grew by 101,400 in the fourth quarter of 2011, and by 103,100 in the first quarter of this year.

Even in the most recent monthly jobs numbers released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, restaurants led the way in job creation, adding 37,000 positions, the same number as the manufacturing sector. Health care businesses added 26,000 jobs in March.

However, economists and commentators called the overall national figure of 120,000 jobs gained for the month disappointing. Job creation had numbered at least 200,000 the previous three months. The national unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.2 percent largely because of the number of people dropping out of the workforce.

Restaurant employment growth has outpaced national job growth for more than a decade, according to the NRA. For the 12 months ended this past March, eating and drinking place employment rose 3.2 percent, compared with 1.5 percent in national job growth during the same period.

The NRA projects that restaurants will add 1.4 million jobs over the next decade, reaching 14.3 million.

“Restaurants are the cornerstone of career and entrepreneurship opportunities,” Sweeney said. “Our industry prides itself on providing these opportunities to individuals of all backgrounds, plus ample opportunity for career advancement.”

Lawmakers looking to seed growth in entrepreneurs like restaurateurs and franchise operators fought for the Jump-Start Our Business Start-ups, or JOBS, Act, which President Obama signed into law Friday. The law would ease processes for small businesses raising capital, including letting ordinary Americans invest small sums of money in businesses via the Internet.

The NRA, which is based in Washington and advocates for the foodservice industry, said the vast majority of restaurants are small businesses, with 93 percent of all such establishments operating with 50 or fewer employees.

Contact Mark Brandau at
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN