Encouraging news from the National Restaurant Association in an April 2 post at https://restaurant.org/articles/news/restaurant-employment-rose-in-march: Although eating and drinking establishments are still 1.8 million jobs, or 15 percent, below pre-COVID-19 levels, there have been three consecutive months’ worth of increases in job restoration here in the United States.
It explained, “Eating and drinking places are the primary component of the total restaurant and foodservice industry, which prior to the coronavirus outbreak employed 12 million out of the total restaurant and foodservice workforce of 15.6 million.”
And, the NRA story noted, as eateries continue “to restore some of the jobs lost during the pandemic in March,” it could be a lengthy recovery. The good news, though, is that there was a net gain of 175,800 foodservice jobs in March on a “seasonally-adjusted basis,” according to data released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And March was the third consecutive month of such increases, lifting restaurant jobs the highest point thus far during the pandemic.
In a footnote, the story said that the BLS monthly employment dataset “measures jobs during the payroll period that includes the 12th of each month. Changes in restaurant staffing levels – both negative and positive – have occurred rapidly during the coronavirus pandemic, as restaurants quickly adjust their operating status in response to evolving regulatory and economic conditions.” It continued, “As a result, significant changes likely occurred during the weeks between each measurement period, and the monthly data may not fully capture the total job losses experienced during the coronavirus lockdowns. Based on surveys of restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association estimates that more than 8 million eating and drinking place employees were laid off or furloughed during the peak of the lockdowns.]”
According to the March figure compilation, every segment of restaurant staffing remained below pre-pandemic employment rates, the NRA story said. “As of February 2021, full-service restaurant staffing levels were over 1.1 million jobs (or 20 percent) below pre-coronavirus readings in February 2020. Job losses in the limited-service segments were somewhat less severe during the initial months of the pandemic, as these operations were more likely to retain staff to support their existing off-premises business. As of February 2021, the quickservice and fast casual segments were down 248,000 jobs (or 6 percent) from pre-pandemic levels,” it said.
And, it said, staffing at operations that serve snacks and non-alcoholic drinks (i.e., coffee, donut and ice cream shops) remain at 10 percent below pre-COVID levels.
“In percentage terms, employment in the cafeterias/grill buffets/buffets segment is still 62 percent below pre-pandemic levels – by far the largest deficit among the major restaurant categories. Staffing levels in the catering and mobile foodservice segment (-44 percent), foodservice contractor segment (-39 percent) and bars and taverns segment (-33 percent) are also significantly below pre-coronavirus readings.”