Restaurant Job Growth Stalls After Increasing Most of the Year

The National Restaurant Association says September staffing declines are normal in some states due to seasonal jobs ending.

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Idaho is the only state that had more restaurant jobs in September 2021 than it did in September 2019. Courtesy of National Restaurant Association.

For the first seven months of the year, the restaurant industry saw gains of nearly 200,000 jobs a month, but that growth appears to have leveled off in August and September.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 44 states saw restaurant employment levels decline between August and September, and eating and drinking establishments are more than 900,000 jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

It’s not surprising, the association notes, that some of the states that experienced the most significant job losses, like Massachusetts and New Jersey, did so, as they have sizable seasonal workforces. Those two states in particular typically rank within the top five states for summer hiring, both boosting their restaurant staffing levels by more than 25,000 seasonal positions, the association says.

Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, Maine, Ohio and North Carolina also see restaurant payrolls expand by more than 10,000 jobs during the summer months.

Still, restaurant employment levels remain below September 2019 levels in 49 states and the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia led the group with 28% fewer restaurant jobs in September 2021 than it had in September 2019. Trailing were Vermont (-23%), Alaska (-23%), Hawaii (-23%) and New York (-22%).

Idaho is the only state that had more restaurant jobs in September 2021 than it did in September 2019.

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