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How the restaurant industry has boomed since the Great Recession

Here are seven data points to show that the industry is bigger and stronger than it was a decade ago.

The Bottom Line

It’s been 10 years since the start of the Great Recession, the worst economic period since the Great Depression.

The economy has changed considerably over that time, as the Wall Street Journal excellently notes here. One way the economy has changed: Restaurants are a much bigger part of it.

While 2009 and 2010 would prove to be the worst two years in the modern era for the restaurant industry, as sales fell and unit count slumped, the years since have been some of the strongest.

Today, 10 years later, the restaurant industry is bigger than it’s ever been. Indeed, some recent slowdowns in growth could be an indication that it’s grown too big.

Here are seven graphics to show how much restaurants have changed over the past 10 years.

Total number of restaurants

If you’ve noticed a lot more restaurants near your location, you’re not imagining things. The number of locations has increased nearly 16% over the past 10 years.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Monthly restaurant sales

Monthly sales at restaurants and bars have steadily increased with the rising number of locations.

Source: U.S. Census

Restaurant job growth

All of these new restaurants need workers. The number of people who work at a restaurant has increased by more than 2 million over the past decade.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Restaurant workers as a percent of total employment

Restaurants are providing a much greater share of the total employment picture now than they did a decade ago. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Average restaurant hourly wage

Rising minimum wages and competition for labor have conspired to increase how much restaurants have to pay their workers.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Domino’s stock price

Domino’s Pizza was a company with weak sales, a lot of debt and a stock price in the single digits a decade ago. Today it is one of the most successful chains in the U.S.

Source: Yahoo Finance

McDonald’s stock price

McDonald’s stock price hasn’t been as dramatic, and has fallen some this year. But it has been a relatively steady presence on the market and has won favor with investors more recently. Its price is a good proxy for the overall increase in industry valuations since the recession.

Source: Yahoo Finance

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