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National Restaurant Association - Economist's Notebook: Outlook for restaurant job growth at 2-year high

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Economist's Notebook: Outlook for restaurant job growth at 2-year high

The National Restaurant Association's Chief Economist Bruce Grindy breaks down the latest employment trends.  The restaurant industry continued to register robust job growth in May, while the overall economy finally surpassed its pre-recession employment peak.  Looking forward, restaurant operators’ outlook for staffing growth rose to its highest level in two years.

The economy continued to move in a positive direction in May, according to the latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The overall economy added a net 217,000 jobs in May on a seasonally-adjusted basis, which marked the fourth consecutive month with gains above the 200,000 level. 

In addition, the overall economy has now surpassed its pre-recession employment peak, with growth exceeding the 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession.  The private sector surpassed its pre-recession peak in March, with the downward trend in public sector jobs representing the difference. 

Restaurant employment gains remained robust in May, with the industry adding a net 31,700 jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis.  This marked the 51st consecutive monthly gain for a total of more than 1.3 million jobs. 

Looking ahead, the outlook for continued restaurant job growth is increasingly optimistic.  While a sizable proportion of overall restaurant job creation comes from growth in the number of locations, existing restaurants also contribute to cyclical employment gains and losses. 

In the National Restaurant Association’s May 2014 Tracking Survey, 25 percent of restaurant operators said they expect to employ more people in six months than they did during the same period in the previous year, while only 10 percent of operators plan to cut positions in six months. 

In addition to representing a two-year high in the proportion of restaurant operators anticipating staffing gains, it was also the strongest net increase (+15 percentage points) in expected job growth since May 2012. 

Both fullservice and quickservice operators are reporting plans to expand staffing levels, which suggests that restaurant industry job growth will continue to be broad-based in the months ahead.

Read more from the Economist’s Notebook and get additional analysis of restaurant industry trends on Restaurant TrendMapper (subscription required).

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