The restaurant industry continued its steady pace of hiring in April despite concerns about higher labor costs and slower sales, according to new government data released on Friday.
Food services and drinking places added 43,800 jobs in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, making it among the top job creators for the month. The overall economy added 428,000 jobs in the month and the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.6%.
The figures suggest that the industry added about one out of every 10 jobs, which is on par with restaurants’ overall employment average. Still, there are signs that the rate of restaurant job growth is slowing. The rate of monthly job growth has slowed from more than 1% per month in November and December to less than 0.4% in April, with a slowing rate of hiring each month.
Restaurants now employ just under 11.6 million workers, up 1.2 million over the past year. But the industry remains about 700,000 jobs short of where it was back in February 2020, before a global pandemic led to dine-in restaurant shutdowns and widespread layoffs that wiped out more than half of the workforce.
There were some numbers in the jobs data that should comfort the industry. For one thing, 500,000 people were kept from looking for work due to the pandemic, down from 874,000 the prior month, suggesting that COVID is leading more people back into the workforce.
In addition, 7.7 percent of employed people worked from home because of the pandemic. That’s down from 10%. That means more people are going into offices, commuting into work and stopping for lunch or getting breakfast on their way in.
Wage rates for leisure and hospitality workers, however, continued to increase, rising another 0.6% in April. Over the past year, wage rates have increased 11% for workers in the restaurant and hotel industries as a lack of available workers has led employers to increase wages at higher rates.
By comparison, overall wage rates are up 5% over the past year.
Food services and drinking places jobs
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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