The U.S. economy gained 192,000 jobs in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the foodservice industry adding more than 30,000 jobs, second only to the professional and business services sector, which gained 57,000.
Over the past year, food services and drinking places added 323,000 jobs and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) said March was the 49th consecutive monthly gain in foodservice jobs and the strongest increase since October.
The BLS noted that private employers have regained all the jobs lost to the recession, when the economy lost an estimated 8.8 million jobs. The restaurant industry surpassed its pre-recession peak in September 2011 and now stands at nearly 900,000 jobs, or 9.2 percent above the previous high.
The NRA said job growth for the industry is expected to remain positive and that's borne out by the organization's March Tracking Survey, which indicated that 22 percent of restaurant operators expect to employ more people in six months than they did in the same period in 2013, while only 13 percent said they plan to cut positions in that period. The remaining 65 percent expect staffing to remain the same.
Looking to the future, the restaurant industry is expected to see employee turnover rates rise and recruiting to become more challenging as the overall job market heats up. According to critics, that may be due to the fact that foodservice workers tend to earn well below average wages.