Restaurant workforce recovery varies significantly by state
Fully 3 years after the onset of the cororavirus outbreak in the U.S., staffing levels in the restaurant industry remained below pre-pandemic levels. This despite expanding payrolls in 26 consecutive months – a total increase of nearly 2.5 million jobs.
As of February 2023, eating and drinking places were 108,000 jobs – or 0.9% – below their February 2020 pre-pandemic employment peak.
Restaurant workforce recovery uneven across states
Restaurant employment trended steadily higher in recent months, but the extent of the industry’s workforce recovery varies significantly by state. As of February 2023, 28 states and the District of Columbia still had fewer eating and drinking place jobs than they did in February 2020.
This group was led by Maine, Maryland and Vermont, which had over 10% fewer eating and drinking place jobs in February 2023 than they did in February 2020.
West Virginia (-9%), Massachusetts (-9%), Rhode Island (-8%) and the District of Columbia (-7%) were also well below their pre-pandemic restaurant employment levels.
In raw numbers, Maryland leads the way with 25,100 fewer eating and drinking place jobs than it had in February 2020. Restaurant employment was also below pre-pandemic readings in Massachusetts (-23,200), Ohio (-18,500), New York (-17,400), Pennsylvania (-16,600), Illinois (-16,400) and Michigan (-16,400).
As of February 2023, eating and drinking place employment in 22 states surpassed their comparable pre-pandemic readings in February 2020. This group was led by Utah (+12%), Nevada (+11%) and Idaho (+10%).
The 6 states that are leading the restaurant employment recovery are all located in the nation’s Mountain Region, which consists of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
In raw numbers, Texas is setting the pace with 50,000 more eating and drinking place jobs than it had in February 2020. Restaurant staffing levels are also above pre-pandemic levels in Florida (+25,800), Nevada (+14,400), Utah (+13,100) and Colorado (11,600).
View the employment data for every state.
*Eating and drinking places are the primary component of the total restaurant and foodservice industry, which prior to the coronavirus outbreak employed more than 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.