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Three decades of restaurant jobs lost in past last two months

Restaurants have lost nearly three times more jobs than any other industry since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

May 13, 2020

1 Min Read
National Restaurant Association reports coronavirus-related job losses.
National Restaurant Association

The devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. labor market continues to come into focus. Not surprisingly, restaurants suffered far more job losses than any other industry.

Eating and drinking places lost 5.5 million jobs in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This followed a net decline of nearly a half-million jobs in March.

Three decades of restaurant jobs lost in past last two months because of coronavirus pandemic

In total, nearly 6 million restaurant jobs had been lost as of the payroll period that included April 12. However, this number will likely grow much larger, based on a recent survey of restaurant operators nationwide.

Regardless of the final tally, the current magnitude of job losses effectively erased more than three decades of restaurant job growth—although many of these jobs likely will return as the economy continues to reopen.

As reported by BLS, there were 6.4 million employees on payroll at eating and drinking places in April. This was the sector’s lowest employment level since May 1989.

While restaurants experienced the most job losses in recent weeks, they certainly weren’t alone:

  • Professional and business services lost 2.2 million jobs.

  • Retail trade, 2.2 million.

  • Health care and social assistance, 2.2 million.

  • Manufacturing, 1.4 million.

  • Construction, 1.0 million.

  • Accommodations, 900,000.

In total, nearly 21.4 million jobs were lost during the last two months. This sets the economy back to its employment level in February 2011.


Source: National Restaurant Association

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