Three decades of restaurant jobs were lost during the last two months

The devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. labor market continues to come into focus. Not surprisingly, restaurants have suffered far more job losses than any other industry. In fact, restaurants have lost nearly three times more jobs than any other industry since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

Eating and drinking places* lost 5.5 million jobs in April on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This followed a net decline of nearly a half-million jobs in March.

In total, nearly 6 million restaurant jobs had been lost as of the payroll period that included April 12. However, this number will likely grow much larger, based on a recent survey of restaurant operators nationwide.

Regardless of the final tally, the current magnitude of job losses effectively erased over three decades of restaurant job growth – albeit with the expectation that many of these jobs will return as the economy continues to reopen.

As reported by BLS, there were 6.4 million employees on payroll at eating and drinking places in April. This was the sector’s lowest employment level since May 1989.

*Eating and drinking places are the primary component of the total restaurant and foodservice industry, which prior the coronavirus outbreak employed 12 million out of the total restaurant and foodservice workforce of 15.6 million.

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