September 18, 2020

Fourteen states lost restaurant jobs in August

After posting healthy gains in the immediate aftermath of the government-mandated lockdowns, job growth in the restaurant industry slowed significantly. Eating and drinking places added a net 133,600 jobs in August, after adding nearly 3.5 million jobs during the previous three months. As a result, eating and drinking place employment remains nearly 2.5 million jobs below its pre-coronavirus peak.

As was the case nationally, restaurant staffing gains tapered off in many states in August. In fact, 14 states saw their eating and drinking place employment levels decline in August. California (-6,400), Florida (-5,900), New Mexico (-2,800), Tennessee (-1,800), South Carolina (-1,600) and Alaska (-1,000) had the most restaurant job losses in August.

Overall, the speed of the restaurant employment recovery is varying significantly by state. Five states – South Dakota, Maine, Indiana, Idaho and Mississippi – have already seen their restaurant employment levels recover from the job losses at the outset of the pandemic.

At the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii, Vermont, New York, Michigan, New Mexico, California and the District of Columbia all had at least 25 percent fewer people on payroll at restaurants in August than they did in February.

View the employment data for every state.

[It’s important to note that the BLS monthly employment reports count 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.