The restaurant industry has long been the top training ground for new entrants to the workforce. In fact, nearly one-half of adults say their first regular job was in the restaurant and foodservice industry, according to new National Restaurant Association research.

This trend continued in 2019, with restaurant operators reporting that roughly one in four of their job openings were filled by people for whom this was the first regular job that they have ever had. 

The limited-service segment was the most likely to hire new entrants to the labor force, with three in 10 job openings going to first-time workers.

In addition to providing job opportunities for new entrants to the workforce, many jobs are also filled by people advancing from other positions within a restaurant. As employees receive the on-the-job training and become more knowledgeable about the operation, they are often the ideal candidates for more senior positions in the restaurant.

In 2019, just over one in five job openings were filled by people who were promoted from other jobs within the same restaurant business. The practice of promoting from within was relatively consistent across the major segments in 2019.

Read more analysis and commentary from the Association's chief economist Bruce Grindy.