Restaurant job growth was broad-based in recent months, but employment remained below comparable pre-pandemic levels in 44 states and DC.
The rebuilding of the restaurant workforce continued in July, as robust consumer demand bolstered the industry’s need for employees. In total during the first seven months of 2021, eating and drinking places* added a net 1.3 million jobs. That brought the sector within 1 million jobs of returning to its pre-pandemic employment level of 12.3 million.
Restaurant employment growth remained broad-based in July, with 44 states and the District of Columbia adding jobs between June and July. California led the way with a net gain of 33,600 eating and drinking place jobs in July. Massachusetts (17,500), New York (13,900), Florida (11,400), Illinois (11,000) and Texas (11,000) also expanded payrolls at a healthy pace in July.
Although every state added restaurant jobs in recent months, employment levels remained below comparable pre-pandemic readings in 44 states and the District of Columbia. This group was led by the District of Columbia, which had 32% fewer eating and drinking places jobs in July 2021 than it did in July 2019.
Alaska (-24%), New York (-22%), Hawaii (-21%) and California (-17%) were also well below their July 2019 restaurant employment levels.
Only 6 states – Idaho, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Arizona – had higher restaurant employment levels in July 2021 than they did in July 2019.
As of July 2021, California had 244,500 fewer eating and drinking place jobs than it did in July 2019. Restaurant employment levels were also well below July 2019 readings in New York (-151,800), Illinois (-72,900), Pennsylvania (-51,400) and Michigan (-50,100).
View the employment data for every state.
[The BLS monthly employment dataset measures jobs during the payroll period that includes the 12th of each month. Changes in restaurant staffing levels – both negative and positive – have occurred rapidly during the coronavirus pandemic, as restaurants quickly adjust their operating status in response to evolving regulatory and economic conditions. As a result, significant changes likely occurred during the weeks between each measurement period, and the monthly data may not fully capture the total job losses experienced during the coronavirus lockdowns. Still, the figures are a useful indication of the extent to which restaurant employment is recovering in each state.]
*Eating and drinking places are the primary component of the total restaurant and foodservice industry, which prior the coronavirus outbreak employed 12 million out of the total restaurant and foodservice workforce of 15.6 million.
Read more analysis and commentary from the Association’s chief economist Bruce Grindy.