July 26, 2021

Restaurant jobs remain below June 2019 levels in 46 states and DC

Restaurant employment rose for the sixth consecutive month in June, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Eating and drinking places* added a net 194,300 jobs in June on a seasonally-adjusted basis, which capped off an increase of more than 1 million jobs during the first half of 2021.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia added restaurant jobs in June, led by a net gain of 32,300 jobs in California. Massachusetts (20,900), Texas (19,500), New York (18,900), New Jersey (17,700) and Florida (15,800) also added restaurant jobs at a solid pace in June.

In 9 states, eating and drinking place employment in June 2021 was higher than their pre-pandemic levels in February 2020. However, 3 of those states – Maine, New Hampshire and Delaware – generally see significant seasonal staffing gains during the summer months, as restaurants gear up for the travel and tourism season. As a result, a February 2020 to June 2021 comparison does not provide the best read on the extent to which restaurant employment is recovering from the pandemic losses.

Instead, when compared to June 2019, only 4 states – Idaho, South Dakota, Wyoming and Mississippi – had higher restaurant employment levels in June 2021. In contrast, eating and drinking place employment in 24 states and the District of Columbia was down at least 10% during the same period.

As of June 2021, California had 282,500 fewer eating and drinking place jobs than it did in June 2019. Restaurant staffing levels were also well below June 2019 readings in New York (-173,200), Illinois (-87,000), Pennsylvania (-64,200) and Florida (-63,800).

View the employment data for every state.

[Note: 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.