Restaurant industry job growth slowed along with the overall economy in March. However, the overall first quarter gain remained on trend with the previous 10 quarters, when growth averaged just under 100,000 restaurant jobs per quarter, according to the NRA’s chief economist Bruce Grindy. His Economist’s Notebook commentary and analysis appears regularly on Restaurant.org and Restaurant TrendMapper.
Restaurant industry job growth slowed along with the overall economy in March, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Eating and drinking places added a net 8,700 jobs in March on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the smallest monthly gain since June 2012.
However, the modest March increase followed a strong February that saw the restaurant workforce jump by 65,600 jobs, the strongest monthly gain in more than 14 years. As a result, the overall first quarter increase of 99,400 jobs remained on trend with the previous 10 quarters, when growth averaged just under 100,000 restaurant jobs per quarter.
Meanwhile, job growth in the overall economy came in well below expectations in March. The economy added a net 126,000 jobs in March, the smallest monthly gain since December 2013. In addition, it ended a streak of 12 consecutive months in which the economy added at least 200,000 jobs.
Despite the March slowdown, the overall labor market remains on a positive trajectory, as the first quarter represented the 11th consecutive quarter in which the economy added more than a half-million jobs. In addition, the 2.3 percent year-to-date growth puts the economy on pace to post its strongest annual employment gain since 1999.
The underlying fundamentals of the economy remain positive, and the NRA expects both the restaurant industry and overall economy to post solid job growth in 2015. However, the sluggish March performance serves as a reality check that the road forward will not be without speed bumps.