In his latest commentary, Bruce Grindy, the National Restaurant Association's chief economist, looks back at 2011 job growth and offers projections for 2012. Restaurants added 230,000 jobs during 2011, the strongest gain since 2006. Looking ahead to 2012, job growth in the restaurant industry is projected to outpace the overall economy by a full percentage point.
The restaurant industry was an engine of growth for the nation's employment recovery in 2011, and the trend is expected to continue to in 2012.
Restaurants added a net 230,000 jobs during 2011, their strongest performance since 2006. In addition, the restaurant industry finished the year only 20,000 jobs shy of fully adding back the 366,000 jobs lost during the recession. Complete recovery is expected in early 2012.
In comparison, the overall economy added a net 1.6 million jobs during 2011, which also represented the strongest gain since 2006. However, the economy has added a total of only 2.7 million jobs since the recovery began, or roughly 30 percent of the nearly 8.8 million jobs shed during the recession. Even factoring in stronger growth in the years ahead, the nation will likely not be back to its prerecession employment level until 2014.
The projected 2012 gain will represent the 13th consecutive year in which restaurant industry job growth outpaces the overall economy, which will continue to provide a much-needed stimulus in a challenging economic environment.
For additional analysis of restaurant industry trends, log on to Restaurant TrendMapper at www.restaurant.org/trendmapper (subscription required).