(January 11, 2011 - USA Today)—Last week's employment report was disappointing, with the economy adding about 50,000 fewer jobs in December than expected, but robust hiring by bars and restaurants may be a sign of better days.
The food services industry added 25,000 jobs last month and was the biggest contributor to a 47,000 jump in employment for leisure and hospitality — the top job creator among 14 broad sectors the government tracks.
All U.S. employers added 103,000 jobs last month — far fewer than the 150,000 many economists expected — restaurants' strong showing is an encouraging sign for the job market overall, some economists say.
"It's an important sector to have growing because it ... consistently adds significant numbers of jobs during expansions," says Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist of Barclays Capital. "It's a very reliable indicator that the overall job market is picking up."
Restaurants and other food and drinking places were among the biggest job producers of 2010, adding 188,000 positions. Hiring picked up sharply in the second half of 2010, with food and drinking establishments adding 130,000 jobs since August.
Read on at USAToday.com: http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/employment/2011-01-11-restaurantjobs11_ST_N.htm