The National Restaurant Association (NRA) expects industry sales to grow to $683 billion in 2014 despite consumer sentiment that is characterized as "less than robust." It is the fifth consecutive year of sales growth projected for the industry.
States in the northeast and upper midwest are expected to see the slowest rate of growth, ranging from 2.3% in Rhode Island and Vermont to 3% in Michigan and Wisconsin. New Jersey at 3.2% and Delaware at 3.6% are projected to lead that region.
The organization's "Restaurant Industry 2014" forecast and trends report projects overall sales to grow 3.6%, with Arizona expected to see the largest growth in sales at 4.9%, followed by North Dakota at 4.8%, Texas at 4.7%, Florida at 4.5% and Colorado at 4.1%. California is not far behind with anticipated sales growth of 3.95%.
Hudson Riehle, the NRA's senior vice president for research and knowledge, said employment in the restaurant industry is expected to continue to grow over the next 10 years with Arizona topping the gains at 15.6%, followed by Texas at 15.3%, Florida at 15%, Nevada at 14.7% and Georgia at 14.4%.
Overall, the NRA expects restaurants and bars to add jobs at a 2.8% rate in 2014, 1% more than the projected 1.8% gain in total U.S. employment. The industry added jobs at a strong 3.3% rate in 2013, outpacing total U.S. employment, which grew 1.6%.
The restaurant industry employs about 13.5 million people, or about 10% of the workforce, and in 2014 will remain the nation's second largest private-sector employer behind health care, according to the NRA.