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National Restaurant Association - Economist's Notebook: Restaurants projected to post strong job growth this summer

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Economist's Notebook: Restaurants projected to post strong job growth this summer

In his latest commentary, the National Restaurant Association's chief economist Bruce Grindy presents the outlook for summer job growth in 2012. Memorial Day weekend typically marks the unofficial kickoff of summer, and with gas prices edging down from recent highs, the summertime outlook for the restaurant industry remains positive. As a result, summer jobs at restaurants are projected to register their largest gain in nearly 20 years.

Memorial Day weekend typically marks the unofficial kickoff of summer, and with it the busiest season for restaurants in many parts of the country. Restaurant patronage generally rises with the temperature during the summer months, which means restaurants in many regions of the country also staff up to handle the higher customer traffic levels.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s 14th annual Eating and Drinking Place Summer Employment Forecast*, eating and drinking places are projected to add 450,000 jobs during the 2012 summer season (defined as average employment in June, July and August). This would represent the industry’s largest increase in summer jobs since 1993 (455,000 jobs).

In addition, total eating- and drinking-place employment is projected to top 10 million for the first time on record during the 2012 summer season. (Eating and drinking places are the largest component of the nation’s total restaurant and foodservice workforce of 12.9 million jobs.)

Eating and drinking places added 444,100 jobs during the 2011 summer season, 427,100 jobs during the 2010 summer season, and 391,300 jobs during the 2009 summer season.

On a state level, trends in summer staffing levels vary dramatically, depending on their busiest seasons for travel and tourism. The states projected to register the largest proportional employment increase during the 2012 summer season are Maine (32 percent), Alaska (24 percent) and Delaware (20 percent).

The states projected to add the most eating and drinking place jobs during the 2012 summer season are New York (43,800), California (32,900), Massachusetts (28,800), Texas (24,600), New Jersey (22,900), Michigan (20,100), Ohio (19,900) and Illinois (19,400).

Because their busiest seasons for travel and tourism aren't in the summer, two states are projected to register declines in eating- and drinking-place employment this summer: Florida (-13,300) and Arizona (-5,500).

The restaurant industry isn't alone in its annual hiring spree during the summer. The construction sector typically leads the way in summer hiring, with an average of nearly 600,000 jobs added during the last two summers (measured as average summer employment compared to March). Summer hiring took a dip during the recession, though, with fewer than 250,000 construction jobs added during the summer of 2009.

Other sectors with sizable growth in their summer workforces include accommodations (an average of 217,000 jobs added during the last two summers), landscaping (206,000) and golf courses (184,000). Golf courses also typically register the largest percent increase out of any major sector, with average summer employment jumping 70 percent above their March employment level during the last two years.

*Notes about the 2012 Eating and Drinking Place Summer Employment Forecast:
Summer employment is defined as the average number of eating- and drinking-place jobs in June, July and August. The number of summer jobs is the difference between the projected total 2012 summer employment and the March 2012 employment level. Generally, the U.S. restaurant industry begins to ramp up its summer seasonal hiring in April, and it peaks in June, July and August. Eating and drinking places account for about three-fourths of the total restaurant and foodservice workforce.

For additional analysis of restaurant industry trends, log on to Restaurant TrendMapper at www.restaurant.org/trendmapper (subscription required).

Eating and Drinking Place Summer Employment Trends

Summer Employment National.gif

Source: National Restaurant Association

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