May 09, 2019

Restaurant industry is posting strong middle-class job growth

The restaurant industry added middle class jobs* at a rate more than three times stronger than the overall economy during the recovery from the Great Recession, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.   

Between 2010 and 2017, the number of restaurant jobs with annual income between $45,000 and $74,999 jumped 71 percent. In comparison, the total number of jobs in the U.S. economy with income in this range rose just 21 percent during the same period.

*For the purposes of this analysis, middle class jobs are defined as those with annual income between $45,000 and $74,999

Due to the scheduling flexibility demanded by much of the industry workforce, most restaurant employees work on a part-time or part-year basis.  Only 45 percent of restaurant workers are full-time/full-year employees, compared to 71 percent of the total U.S. workforce. As a result, the restaurant industry is home to only 2 percent of all jobs in the economy with annual income between $45,000 and $74,999.

However, the restaurant industry was responsible for 5 percent of the net new middle class jobs added to the economy between 2010 and 2017, which is more than double its current share of these jobs.

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