Restaurant Employment Is Gradually Increasing, According To New Data

The restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has been slowly recovering from the heavy losses sustained in 2020. Some restaurants reduced their menu sizes to cope with the lack of employees available to cook and serve the food; others found creative ways to continue operating like shifting to takeout-only service or embracing outdoor dining, but many were unfortunately forced to close their doors permanently. In May 2020, Restaurant Business Online reported that 5.9 million employees had been lost across the industry — comparable to 1980s numbers. In fact, they state that nearly one out of every four people that were laid off at that time had been working in the restaurant industry.

Forbes reports that restaurants were forced to adapt to the pandemic's labor issues by embracing technology and accessibility to cope with government-forced shutdowns. Now, the industry is starting to bounce back from the pandemic by gradually regaining employees and lowering unemployment rates.

Bouncing back to pre-COVID numbers

The restaurant industry now employs roughly 11,938,000 people, after adding 40,800 jobs in June, according to QSR Magazine. They report that this is up 27% from June 2020, though the number of employees is still lower than it was in the pre-COVID world. QSR notes that unemployment has held at around 3.6%, or 5.9 million people, for four consecutive months now — pre-pandemic it was just slightly lower, at around 3.5%, or 5.7 million people.

As the world continues to adjust to everyday life modifications made by the pandemic, as well as rising inflation, restaurants are turning to technology to help make life a little easier for their employees. QSR reports that many restaurants are now utilizing online ordering, QR code menus, and ordering tablets at tables in order to expedite orders. They state that this can eliminate human error, and it allows chefs to receive order tickets as quickly as possible.