Bar, Restaurant Employment Nears Pre-Pandemic Levels

Foodservice employers added more than 50,000 new positions last month.

April 11, 2023

WASHINGTON—Restaurant and bar employees are very close to pre-pandemic numbers, with foodservice employers bringing on 50,300 workers, approximately one out of every five jobs created across the U.S. economy in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Restaurant Business reports.

The increase brought payrolls within 0.6 percentage points of the February 2020 numbers, with restaurant jobs only shy 75,000 positions since that marker. BLS registered 12.3 million jobs for total employment within the foodservice industry.

The agency noted the economy added 236,000 jobs across all industries last month, with the nation’s unemployment rate holding steady at 3.5%. The rate of job creation has also stayed the course since early 2022. While restaurant and bar hiring slowed some from February, when around 60,000 jobs had been filled, the March rate still by far outpaced hiring stats in any other measured industry.

March marked the 27th consecutive month of employment gains in the restaurant industry. During that time, more than 2.5 million hires have been made. According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant sector logged 300,000 more jobs than the next closest industry (professional and business services), which added 2.2 million jobs in the same time period.

Overall, restaurant employment varied greatly by state. As of February 2023, Washington, D.C., along with 28 states, still clocked fewer bar and restaurant positions than they had in February 2020. However, the restaurant industry’s recovery is being led by Utah (up 12%), Nevada (up 11%) and Idaho (up 10%), with these states surpassing their pre-pandemic numbers from February 2020.

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