Restaurant job growth is projected to outpace the overall economy in 2016, and the industry will add more than 300,000 jobs for the sixth consecutive calendar year, 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 be one of the strongest job creators in the economy, with industry job growth outpacing the overall economy for the 16th consecutive year in 2015. Eating and drinking places, the primary component of the restaurant industry accounting for three-fourths of the total restaurant and foodservice workforce, added jobs at a 3.2 percent rate in 2015. This was more than a full percentage point above the 2.1 percent gain in total U.S. employment.
The industry’s 2015 gain marked the fourth consecutive year with job growth of at least 3 percent, the longest streak since the mid-1980s. With job growth outstripping the overall economy in each of the last 16 years, the eating-and-drinking-place sector saw its employment level jump by 38 percent. In contrast, the total number of jobs in the economy increased by only 10 percent during the same period.
Within the industry, job growth remained broad-based in 2015, with most of the major segments posting solid gains. The snack-and-nonalcoholic-beverage-bar segment – which includes concepts like coffee, doughnut and ice cream shops – led the way with a robust 6.5 percent employment gain in 2015, the fourth consecutive year with growth above 5 percent.
The quickservice segment added jobs at a 3.4 percent rate in 2015, while the tableservice segment expanded payrolls at a 3.3 percent pace.
Looking ahead, the NRA expects eating and drinking places to add jobs at a 3.0 percent rate in 2016, which will represent the fifth consecutive year in which the restaurant industry registered job growth of at least 3 percent. In comparison, the overall economy hasn’t posted job growth of 3 percent since 1994.
The projected 2016 increase will also represent the sixth consecutive calendar year in which restaurants added more than 300,000 jobs.
For the national labor market, 2015 was the strongest year yet in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The national economy added a net 2.9 million jobs on an annual basis in 2015, and the 2.1 percent employment increase was the strongest gain in 15 years.
Although the economy is expected to build on 2015’s positive performance, growth will likely be somewhat slower in 2016. The NRA projects total U.S. employment to increase 1.8 percent in 2016, down slightly from the 2.1 percent gain posted in 2015.