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National Restaurant Association - Economist's Notebook: Restaurant industry surpasses pre-recession employment levels

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Economist's Notebook: Restaurant industry surpasses pre-recession employment levels

In his latest commentary, the National Restaurant Association's chief economist Bruce Grindy breaks down the January jobs report.  The economy added nearly a quarter-million jobs in January, and the jobless rate fell to a three-year low.  In addition, the restaurant industry continued its steady growth, adding more than 300,000 jobs in the last 12 months. 

The national economy got off to a solid start in 2012, according to the latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The economy added 243,000 jobs in January, the third consecutive monthly acceleration and strongest gain since April 2011. 

The private sector continued to drive growth with an increase of 257,000 jobs in January, the 23rd consecutive gain and strongest performance in nine months.  In contrast, the public sector remained a modest drag on the economy, shedding 14,000 jobs in January.

Within the private sector, the restaurant industry continued to be one of the steadiest job creators.  Eating and drinking places added 32,800 jobs in January, their 12th consecutive monthly gain for a total of more than 303,000 jobs.  In addition, as a result of annual BLS data revisions, it was revealed that the restaurant industry gained back all of the jobs lost in the recession as of November 2011, with the industry currently providing 105,000 more jobs than it did at the pre-recession peak.

Along with the improving job growth in recent months was a steady decline in the unemployment rate.  The nation’s jobless rate stood at 8.3 percent in January, the fifth consecutive monthly decline and lowest level since February 2009.  While a temporary uptick in the unemployment rate is still likely as discouraged workers reenter the labor force, the recent trend is certainly positive, particularly with regard to the psychological boost that it provides to consumers. 

For additional analysis of restaurant industry trends, log on to Restaurant TrendMapper (subscription required).

Total U.S. Non-Farm Employment GrowthJobs january.gifSource: Bureau of Labor Statistics; figures are seasonally-adjusted   

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