Next year is projected to be the 14th year in a row that the foodservice industry will outpace the U.S. economy on the whole in job growth, but hiring and retention may become more challenging, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast.
Eating-and-drinking places are expected to add jobs at a rate of 2.4 percent next year, 0.9 percent higher than the expected increase in total U.S. employment. During the past 13 years, the restaurant industry has added jobs at a rate of 24 percent. Nationally, the U.S. employment grew by 3 percent during the same period.
Even with all that growth, the association found that the labor pool to fill those jobs has been sufficient — thanks in large part to the recession. As of October 2012, only 5 percent of restaurateurs said recruiting and retaining employees was their biggest challenge — down from 35 percent in October 2007.
“With the national jobless rate hovering around 8 percent and more than 20 million individuals still unemployed or underemployed, the labor pool remains sufficiently deep for most restaurant operators,” the report said.
The troubled economy has also helped retention rates at restaurants. “Most sectors of the economy saw their overall turnover rates decline during the challenging economic environment of 2008-2010, as workers were less likely to quit their current jobs with fewer employment opportunities available,” the study said. Prior to the economic downturn, employees turned over in the “restaurants and accommodations” sector at a rate of 80 percent. That rate is now 58.8 percent.
But as the economy rebounds, hiring and keeping employees in the foodservice industry is expected to become harder in coming years. When asked to look ahead to 2013, restaurant operators said that they expect the recruitment and retention of employees to be more challenging for them than it was in 2012.
Fifty-four percent of quick-service operators say that hiring employees will be
more challenging in 2013 than it was in 2012. In addition, 45 percent of fast-casual operators and roughly one-third of full-service operators expect recruitment and retention to be more difficult in the coming year.
To help maintain the labor pool, operators across all restaurant segments are investing more into their training budgets. In the quick-service segment, 64 percent of operators expect to devote more resources to training in 2013, while 59 percent of casual-dining operators and 53 percent of fast-casual operators said they plan to do the same.
Western and Southern U.S. states are the fastest-growing regions for foodservice jobs, the report found. "Texas and Arizona are projected to lead the way with restaurant-and-foodservice job growth of 15.9 percent between 2013 and 2023," the study said. “Nevada (14.8 percent), North Dakota (14.7 percent) and Florida (14.6 percent) also are expected to expand their restaurant-industry workforces at rates well above the national average during the next 10 years.”
In 2012, restaurants and bars added jobs at a rate of 3 percent. That was more than double the total U.S. employment, which rose 1.4 percent. The number of people working in restaurant and foodservice employment is expected to be 13.1 million in 2013.
Between March 2010 and October 2012, eating-and-drinking places added 701,000, the report said. During that same period, the restaurant industry ranked third in job growth, behind professional and business services, which added nearly 1.5 million new jobs, and health care and social assistance, which added 820,000 jobs.
By 2023, the NRA projects that the restaurant industry will add 1.3 million jobs, bringing the total number of jobs in the industry to 14.4 million in the U.S.
Contact Erin Dostal at email@example.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @erindostal