Although job openings in the hospitality sector rose to a record high in the first quarter, it doesn’t appear to have restrained hiring, according to the NRA’s Chief Economist Bruce Grindy. His Economist’s Notebook commentary and analysis appears regularly on Restaurant.org and Restaurant TrendMapper.
The restaurant industry continues to expand payrolls at a steady pace, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Eating and drinking places added a net 18,200 jobs in April on a seasonally-adjusted basis, which means the industry has now added more than 2 million jobs since the employment recovery began just over six years ago.
Along with the steady growth in restaurant employment, the number of job openings also continues to trend higher, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTS) data from BLS.
End-of-month job openings in the restaurants-and-accommodations sector* averaged 685,000 during the first quarter of 2016 (on a seasonally-adjusted basis), which represented an increase of 21,000 job openings over what was reported during the fourth quarter of 2015. It also marked the highest quarterly reading since the JOLTS data series began in 2000.
However, the pace of hiring in the hospitality sector has also been accelerating at the same time. Restaurants and lodging places filled an average of 861,000 jobs each month during the first quarter of 2016, which represented the strongest pace of hiring since the first quarter of 2006.
(Note: The ‘hires’ figures represent the total number of additions to the payroll during the month. Net job growth – which for eating and drinking places is usually in the +30,000 to -30,000 range during a typical month – is the difference between total hires and total separations during the month.)
The fact that the number of hires remains comfortably above the number of job openings suggests that the rise in vacancies isn’t significantly impacting overall hiring in the hospitality industry.
In contrast, the trend has been somewhat different for the overall economy in recent months. The average number of end-of-month job openings exceeded average monthly hiring by 7 percent during the first quarter of 2016, which suggests that businesses in other industries are having a more difficult time finding qualified workers to fill vacancies.
*Note that the figures presented are for the broadly-defined Accommodations and Food Services sector (NAICS 72), because the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report data for restaurants alone.