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Restaurants’ labor market tightening, NRA finds

Restaurants and lodging properties had nearly 600,000 jobs unfilled at the height of the summer season, indicating a widening gap between the demand and supply of hospitality workers, according to the National Restaurant Association.

“While it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the industry is careening toward a full-blown labor shortage, the underlying fundamentals suggest that the labor market is likely tightening,” NRA economist Bruce Grindy said on his blog, Economist’s Notebook.

The association found that restaurants and lodging properties had 583,000 open jobs on the last day of July, an increase of 100,000 from the same day of 2013.

Those positions remained open despite the hiring of more than 706,000 people during July.  Hiring had topped the 700,000-person threshold for May and June as well, according to Grindy.

Still, he noted, restaurateurs remain more concerned about food costs than the availability and price of labor. In an August survey conducted for the NRA, 9 percent said the recruitment and retention of employees was their top concern, compared with 29 percent who cited food costs. 

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