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National Restaurant Association - Restaurant labor indicators a mixed bag

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Restaurant labor indicators a mixed bag

Restaurant industry job growth remained robust in October, adding jobs at its strongest rate in more than a year.  Despite the continued payroll expansion, the average employee workweek was flat to somewhat lower for the major segments, 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 continued to add jobs at a robust pace in October, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Eating and drinking places added a net 41,800 jobs in October on a seasonally-adjusted basis, their 56th consecutive monthly increase and strongest gain since May 2013.

Overall, the restaurant industry remains on pace to post job growth of at least 3 percent for the third consecutive year, which would mark the first such occurrence since the 1993 – 1995 period.

Within the restaurant industry, the snack and nonalcoholic beverage bar segment is leading the way in job growth.  This segment – which includes concepts such as coffee, donut and ice cream shops – added jobs at a strong 5.5 percent rate on a year-to-date basis through September 2014.  If this trend continues, it would represent the segment’s third consecutive year with employment gains above 5 percent.

The quickservice segment is also posting solid growth, adding jobs at a 3.6 percent rate during the first nine months of 2014.  This puts the quickservice segment on pace to post job growth of at least 3.5 percent for the third consecutive year.

The fullservice segment added jobs at a 2.7 percent rate through the first nine months of 2014.  While this is down somewhat from the consecutive 3.4 percent gains registered in 2012 and 2013, fullservice employment gains remain nearly a full percentage-point above job growth in the overall economy.  

While the industry continues to expand payrolls at a solid rate, the average workweek of employees is flat to somewhat lower for the major segments.  According to BLS, the average weekly hours worked by non-supervisory employees in the snack and nonalcoholic beverage segment declined 1.0 percent on a year-to-date basis through September 2014.   

Meanwhile, the average workweek of quickservice restaurant employees declined 0.4 percent through September, while the average employee workweek in the fullservice segment was essentially flat. 

In contrast, average hours worked by food service contractor employees increased 9.0 percent in the first nine months of the year, while average weekly hours of employees in the catering and mobile foodservice segment rose 8.6 percent.


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