U.S. Restaurants Add 186,000 Jobs in May But Still Remain 12% Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

Jun 8, 2021 | Insight

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Though it’s a welcome sign for the industry, eating and drinking establishments are still 1.5 million jobs below pre-pandemic employment levels.


While eating and drinking establishments are still 1.5 million jobs below pre-pandemic staffing levels in the United States, restaurant employment rose for the fifth consecutive month, adding a net 186,000 jobs in May on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Overall, during the last five months, eating and drinking places added a net 830,000 jobs, which is equivalent to the total number of restaurant jobs added in the 42 months prior to the pandemic, says the BLS

While this is a welcome sign for the industry, the road to a full recovery remains a long one with, eating and drinking establishments still 1.5 million jobs – or 12% – below pre-pandemic employment levels.

According to Restaurant Dive, “Many restaurant owners blame the labor crisis on the additional unemployment benefits that have been available for the better part of the year.”

For the period spanning April 2020 to April 2021, full service restaurants have added nearly 2.8 million jobs. However, that still left the industry 750,000 jobs (or 14%) below pre-pandemic staff employments levels.

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