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Jobless rate at 3.9% and foodservice gains 6,600 jobs in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Restaurant industry jobs growth slows in April as unemployment rate rises

Jobless rate at 3.9% and foodservice gains 6,600 jobs in April, Bureau of Labor Statistics reports

The United States’ unemployment rate, at 3.9%, and the number of unemployed people, at 6.5 million, changed little in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.

The unemployment rate has remained in a narrow range of 3.7% to 3.9% since August 2023, the bureau noted.

As of April 2024, eating and drinking places were 40,000 jobs (or 0.3%) above their February 2020 employment peak, according to the National Restaurant Association

Restaurant employment registered a modest gain in April, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In March, the restaurant industry had added more than 28,000 jobs.

“Eating and drinking places added a net 6,600 jobs in April on a seasonally adjusted basis. That came on the heels of stronger gains in February (25,100) and March (28,500),” National Restaurant Association economists noted.

On average during the last six months, eating and drinking places added less than 8,000 jobs each month. That compares to an average monthly gain of more than 27,000 jobs during the six-month May 2023 to October 2023 period.     

The full-service restaurant segment experienced the most job losses during the initial months of the pandemic. As of March 2024, full-service restaurant employment levels were 240,000 jobs (or 4%) below pre-pandemic readings in March 2020.

The association noted that employment counts in the cafeterias/grill buffets/buffets segment, down 32%, also remained below their March 2020 levels.

As of March 2024, employment at snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars — including coffee, donut and ice cream shops — was 115,000 jobs (or 14%) above March 2020 rates.

Staffing levels in the quick-service and fast-casual segments were 148,000 jobs (or 3%) above pre-pandemic levels. Headcounts at bars and taverns were 28,000 jobs (or 6%) above the pre-pandemic peak.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

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