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Report: Restaurants remain leading job creator in 2015


Washington, D.C. -- Restaurants will remain the nation’s hottest hirer this year. An annual report by the National Restaurant Association indicated that, as it has for the last 16 years, the restaurant industry employment will outpace employment growth in 2015.

According to the 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast, released Tuesday, restaurants will employ 14 million individuals this year as the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, representing about 10% of the total U.S. workforce. As well, while the operating environment will remain challenging, total restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record $709.2 billion in 2015 – a 3.8% increase over 2014.

“Although operators will continue to face a range of complex challenges in 2015, the restaurant and foodservice industry remains a fundamental driver of the nation’s economy, while providing valuable careers and opportunities to 14 million Americans,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Among other key findings of the report:

• Eating and drinking places are expected to add jobs at a 3.2% rate in 2015, a percentage point above the projected 2.2% percent gain in total U.S. employment;

• Restaurant industry employment will reach 15.7 million by 2025, an increase of 1.7 million positions during the 10-year period;

• While every state is expected to see their restaurant industry workforce expand during the next decade, the top five states are: Arizona (23.8%), Florida (22.4%), Texas (22.0%), Georgia (21.1 %) and Utah (21.0%);

• With the economy steadily improving and the jobless rate trending downward, restaurant operators are finding that the competition for employees is intensifying;

• Labor costs will remain a concern for operators in 2015. Challenges with Affordable Care Act implementation and minimum wage increases have made a significant impact on restaurant bottom lines, as typically one-third of restaurant sales is spent on labor;

• Consumers continue to have substantial pent-up demand for restaurant services: 38% of consumers say they are not eating on the premises of restaurants as frequently as they would like; 41% say they are not purchasing takeout or delivery as often as they would like.

There were also key findings with regard to trends and technology:

• Roughly one-quarter of consumers say technology options are important features that factor into their decision to choose a restaurant;

• While restaurants are more rapidly starting to adopt various forms of consumer-facing technology, a gap remains between what consumers want and what restaurants currently offer. That gap is beginning to narrow and will further close over the next several years as restaurant technology evolves and more options enter the marketplace; and

• Despite increased consumer use of technology options, personal service will continue to be the hallmark of dining out. Consumers still want people as part of their restaurant experience, yet look to technology to increase service speed and convenience.

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