This post is part of the On the Margin blog.
The restaurant industry added 24,800 jobs in March, according to newly released federal data, or a rate of more than one out of every 10 of the 215,000 jobs the economy created in the month.
That’s actually a slowdown from February, when restaurants added 16 percent of all jobs.
Still, it’s the latest sign that the industry continues to expand and add workers at a clip much faster than the rate of the overall economy.
Over the past year, restaurants have added 370,000 workers, representing about 13 percent of all jobs created over that period.
The rapid pace of hiring, coupled with lower unemployment overall, has made it more difficult for restaurant companies to find workers, as we discussed in detail earlier this week. Nearly half of operators told Nation’s Restaurant News that recruitment and retention was their top concern, and nothing else was particularly close.
The difficulty in hiring, coupled with increases in the minimum wage, overtime rules and labor activism, threatens to increase labor costs in the coming years.
Still, the economy continues to add jobs. Employers added 215,000 jobs in March and have added nearly 3 million workers over the past year, according to federal data. The employment rate was up to 5 percent, however, in part because more people entered the labor force.
Maybe the most encouraging aspect of the employment report was the increase in wages. Average hourly earnings increased 7 cents to $25.43 an hour, and for the past year are up 2.3 percent. Higher wages, as much as employment, tends to drive restaurant sales.