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Restaurant job growth appears to be slowing

The restaurant industry added 6,600 jobs in April, according to new federal data, continuing a pattern of slower overall job growth.
Restaurant hiring
Restaurants are hiring workers, but not as many as they had been. | Photo: Shutterstock.

Restaurants added 6,600 jobs in April, a moderate sum that reflected a slowing of the overall job market as higher interest rates and slowed consumer spending take a toll on the economy.

The industry employs 12.3 million workers, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Friday. That was little changed from the past few months.

Overall, the economy added 175,000 jobs and the unemployment rate changed little at 175,000.

Job growth has slowed of late, and wage growth slowed last month to 0.2%, which should relax concerns of further interest rate increases or a return of inflation.

For restaurants, a slowdown in job growth reflects an overall slowdown in the market. Industry traffic has slowed amid consumer inflation over higher prices, which is lessening the need for more workers.

More restaurants are also using technology like voice AI in the drive-thru or kiosks in the lobby.

On average, restaurants have added fewer than 10,000 jobs per month so far this year, compared with an average of 26,000 jobs per month in 2023. Indeed, the slowdown in restaurant jobs began in late 2023 and has mostly persisted into 2024.

Elsewhere in the retail food world, grocers and liquor stores added 2,100 jobs last month. And convenience stores and gas stations added 2,900 jobs.

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