Analysis and Commentary

Our chief economist provides his take on the economy, and what it means for restaurants.

Latest commentary

May 14, 2021
Consumers ramped up their restaurant spending in April

While the impact of stimulus checks will fade in the coming months, economic fundamentals remain conducive for continued spending growth.

May 7, 2021
Restaurants added 187k jobs in April

More than 8 in 10 restaurant operators say their staffing levels are lower than what they would normally be in the absence of COVID-19.

April 16, 2021
49 states and DC added restaurant jobs in March

Despite the broad-based gains, restaurant employment remains below pre-pandemic levels in every state.

April 15, 2021
Restaurant sales rose sharply in March

Warmer weather and additional stimulus payments bolstered consumer spending in restaurants.

April 2, 2021
Restaurant employment rose for the third consecutive month

Despite the recent gains, eating and drinking places are still 1.8 million jobs below their pre-pandemic employment level.

March 26, 2021
Restaurant jobs remain below pre-pandemic levels in every state and DC

While 43 states and DC saw gains in February, restaurant employment remains below pre-pandemic levels across the nation.

March 26, 2021
2021 Economic Outlook: Bolstered by additional fiscal stimulus

Even though the economy is projected to grow at a rate not seen in nearly four decades, it is not yet time to sound the all-clear.

March 19, 2021
A look back at consumers’ restaurant usage during the past year

More people are using restaurants for off-premises foodservice options, but on-premises patronage is still well below pre-pandemic levels.

March 17, 2021
Consumers want to keep ‘streeteries’ in place beyond the pandemic

The vast majority of consumers favor allowing restaurants to expand outdoor seating on a permanent basis.

March 16, 2021
Restaurant sales pulled back from a healthy January

The shortfall in restaurant and foodservice sales totaled $270 billion during the first 12 months of the pandemic.

March 15, 2021
Forty states and DC lost restaurant jobs in January

Restaurant employment remains below pre-pandemic levels in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

March 5, 2021
Restaurants added nearly 300k jobs in February

The shortfall in restaurant employment from pre-pandemic levels is nearly three times larger than the next closest industry.

February 22, 2021
Restaurant operators do not expect a rapid return to normal

Six in 10 operators think it will be at least 7 months before business conditions return to normal for their restaurant.

February 19, 2021
Off-premises sales not enough to offset lost on-premises business

While many restaurants saw off-premises sales rise during the pandemic, it wasn’t enough to make up for their lost on-premises business.

February 17, 2021
Restaurant sales rose for the first time in four months

January’s gain was a step in the right direction, but monthly sales remain nearly $11 billion below their pre-coronavirus levels.

February 5, 2021
Restaurant employment fell for the third consecutive month

This increases the likelihood that the restaurant industry’s employment recovery will be measured in years and not months.

January 26, 2021
Forty-two states lost restaurant jobs in December

Vermont, Michigan and Minnesota have the largest deficits from their pre-coronavirus employment levels.

January 25, 2021
2021 Economic Outlook: The long road to recovery continues

While the national economy is projected to register healthy growth in 2021, the labor market isn’t expected to fully recover until 2022.

January 15, 2021
Restaurant sales fell to their lowest level since June

Restaurant sales declined for the third consecutive month in December, with total industry sales losses reaching $240 billion in 2020.

January 8, 2021
Nearly 400k restaurant jobs were lost in December

Eating and drinking places finished 2020 nearly 2.5 million jobs (or 20%) below their pre-coronavirus employment level.

December 23, 2020
Tourism-related spending in restaurants fell sharply in recent months

The percent of restaurant sales coming from travelers and visitors is less than half of what it was before COVID-19.

December 22, 2020
Thirty-six states lost restaurant jobs in November

Restaurant employment in 47 states and the District of Columbia remained below February’s pre-coronavirus level.

December 16, 2020
Restaurant sales fell for the second consecutive month

Restaurant sales plunged 4% in November, and a majority of operators expect business conditions to worsen during the winter months.

December 4, 2020
The restaurant industry employment recovery stalled in November

As business conditions continue to deteriorate, the likelihood of additional restaurant staffing reductions is rising.

November 20, 2020
Restaurant jobs remain below pre-pandemic levels in 46 states and DC

Hawaii, Vermont and the District of Columbia have the largest deficits from their pre-coronavirus employment levels.

November 17, 2020
Restaurant sales recovery stalled in October

Restaurant sales declined for the first time since the spring lockdowns, with total pandemic losses reaching $215 billion through October.

November 6, 2020
The restaurant industry employment recovery slowed in recent months

Restaurants added jobs for the sixth consecutive month in October, but industry employment remained 2.1 million below pre-coronavirus levels.

November 4, 2020
Consumers are expected to continue using takeout and delivery

Consumers increased their usage of takeout and delivery during the pandemic, and this trend will likely continue during the winter months.

November 4, 2020
Consumers signal a willingness to maintain their on-premises frequency

Winter is coming – but it may not lead to a decline in on-premises dining, according to new Association research.

October 20, 2020
Thirty-two states lost restaurant jobs in September

Restaurant employment in 47 states and the District of Columbia remained below February’s pre-coronavirus level.

October 16, 2020
Restaurant sales growth slowed significantly in September

The total shortfall in restaurant and foodservice sales topped $200 billion during the first seven months of the pandemic.

October 2, 2020
Restaurant employment still 2.3 million below pre-coronavirus levels

After an initial hiring surge in the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdowns, restaurant job growth slowed significantly in recent months.

September 18, 2020
Fourteen states lost restaurant jobs in August

Five states – South Dakota, Maine, Indiana, Idaho and Mississippi – surpassed their pre-coronavirus restaurant employment peaks.

September 17, 2020
Consumers respond to new off-premises options at restaurants

Seven in 10 operators say off-premises sales represent a higher proportion of their total business compared to pre-coronavirus levels.

September 16, 2020
Restaurant sales rose in August, but operators remained concerned

As total restaurant sales losses topped $185 billion, a majority of operators do not expect their business to fully recover within 6 months.

September 4, 2020
Restaurant employment recovery is in danger of stalling

The restaurant industry added just 133,600 jobs in August, and staffing levels remain nearly 2.5 million jobs below the pre-coronavirus peak.

August 21, 2020
Speed of restaurant employment recovery varies significantly by state

Four states – Texas, Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma – lost eating and drinking place jobs in July.

August 18, 2020
Consumers are worried their restaurants will not survive the pandemic

A majority of U.S. adults say they know of a restaurant in their community that has permanently closed during the coronavirus outbreak.

August 14, 2020
Restaurant sales continued to rise in July, but at a much slower pace

The total shortfall in restaurant and foodservice sales surpassed $165 billion during the first five months of the pandemic.

August 7, 2020
Restaurant job growth slowed significantly in July

Restaurant job growth is expected to be choppy in the months ahead, following the initial bounce of 3 million jobs in May and June.

July 16, 2020
Restaurant sales hit a pandemic high in June, but were far below normal

The total shortfall in restaurant and foodservice sales reached an estimated $145 billion during the first four months of the pandemic.

July 2, 2020
Restaurants added 1.5 million jobs for the second consecutive month

The impressive two-month employment bounce only marks the beginning of a long climb back to pre-coronavirus staffing levels.

June 19, 2020
Restaurant employment rose in all 50 states and DC in May

While the May job growth is a positive sign, it only marks the beginning of a painfully long road to recovery for the restaurant industry.

June 16, 2020
Restaurant sales remain well below normal levels, despite May uptick

The total shortfall in restaurant and foodservice sales likely surpassed $120 billion during the first three months of the pandemic.

June 5, 2020
Restaurant employment is starting to rebound from the historic losses

Although restaurants added 1.4 million jobs in May, their staffing levels remain down more than any other industry.

June 2, 2020
Restaurant operators do not anticipate a rapid improvement in business

Sales, employment and capital spending levels are expected to remain dampened through the end of the year.

May 22, 2020
Summer employment in restaurants is another casualty of the coronavirus

Many of the half-million seasonal restaurant jobs will not exist this summer, which will limit opportunities for first-time job seekers.

May 15, 2020
Restaurant sales fell to their lowest real level in over 35 years

Adjusting for inflation, consumer spending at eating and drinking places plunged to its lowest level since October 1984.

May 8, 2020
Three decades of restaurant jobs were lost during the last two months

Restaurants have lost nearly three times more jobs than any other industry since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

April 28, 2020
Consumer pent-up demand for restaurants remains strong

New survey indicates that pent-up demand for restaurants is elevated, even as many consumers maintain their off-premises frequency.

April 20, 2020
Restaurant sales and job losses are widespread across segments

New survey assesses the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the restaurant industry.

April 13, 2020
Consumers are still seeking off-premises options from restaurants

While it doesn’t come close to making up for sales losses, a majority of consumers are maintaining their off-premises usage of restaurants.

April 3, 2020
Restaurant job losses in March were the largest in history – for now

The March employment report was the not-so-calm before the storm.

March 6, 2020
Restaurants provide first jobs and a career path

Nearly half of restaurant job openings in 2019 were filled by either first-time workers or promotions.  

March 6, 2020
Middle-class jobs are growing rapidly in restaurants

The restaurant industry is adding middle-class jobs at a faster pace than the overall economy.

February 12, 2020
Growth in the national economy will remain moderate in 2020

The longest economic expansion on record will continue in 2020, albeit at a somewhat slower pace, according to Association projections.

December 19, 2019
Consumers in Seattle and DC spend the most in restaurants

Seattle and Washington, DC lead the major metropolitan areas in restaurant spending per capita.

November 21, 2019
Households in the West spent the most at restaurants in 2018

Household expenditures at restaurants rose faster than most other spending categories during the last 5 years, led by consumers in the West.

October 24, 2019
Teens in the labor force expected to fall to a 65-year low

Labor force growth will be dominated by older adults during the next decade, which will have implications for the restaurant workforce.

September 20, 2019
Consumers want to increase their restaurant frequency

One-half of baby boomers want to use takeout and delivery more often.

September 20, 2019
Consumers have mixed feelings about the economy

Six in 10 millennials give the economy negative marks.

September 13, 2019
Growth in higher-income households bolsters restaurant sales

The number of households with income above $100,000 jumped 29 percent during the last seven years.

August 8, 2019
Restaurants continue to face staffing challenges

Competition for employees in the restaurant industry remains intense, despite recent decline in job openings.

July 11, 2019
Economic outlook for 2nd half of 2019 remains positive

Consumers are expected to remain in a relatively good financial position, which is positive for restaurants.  

June 19, 2019
Gas prices expected to remain elevated this summer

Rising gas prices haven’t crowded out restaurant spending thus far in 2019. 

June 5, 2019
Restaurant industry added nearly 14k locations in 2018

The restaurant industry added more than 10,000 locations for the third consecutive year. 

May 22, 2019
Restaurants projected to add 515k seasonal jobs this summer

Although restaurants will add more than a half-million jobs for the seventh consecutive summer, hiring will be somewhat curtailed in 2019.

May 22, 2019
Teens come back to the restaurant workforce – for now

Teen restaurant employment is at its highest level since 2007, but long-term projections suggest a downward trend. 

May 22, 2019
Restaurants are tapping into a seasoned labor pool

Older adults were the fastest-growing cohort of restaurant employees in recent years.

May 15, 2019
Consumers are uncertain about personal finances and the economy

Millennials are particularly downbeat about their personal economies.  

May 15, 2019
Consumer pent-up demand for restaurants remains elevated

Four in 10 adults say they are not eating at restaurants as often as they would like.

May 9, 2019
Restaurants are filling all rungs on the career ladder

Nearly half of restaurant job openings in 2018 were filled by either first-time workers or promotions.

May 9, 2019
Restaurant industry is posting strong middle-class job growth

The restaurant industry continues to add middle-class jobs at a much stronger rate than the overall economy.

May 9, 2019
Hospitality industry turnover rate ticked higher in 2018

The turnover rate in the restaurants-and-accommodations sector rose to a post-recession high of 74.9 percent in 2018.