In Cleveland and New York City, more than a third of the new jobs added since 2015 are food and drink service industry positions, while the entire state of Florida is on fire with new restaurant jobs, according to federal labor statistics. In fact, the skyrocketing number of new positions spinning out of the food service industry — now the No. 1 source of job growth nationally — led Atlantic magazine this week to headline its article on the trend, "Restaurants Are the New Factories."
Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the restaurant category shows that it's growing faster than health care, construction, or manufacturing in new jobs. Casual and fine dining restaurants represent the largest source of growth at half of the entire category. Quick-service concepts come in second at 37 percent.
For the past 30 years, the shift from manufacturing to jobs such as those in restaurants has been increasing, according to the Atlantic, which adds that if restaurant jobs continue to grow at this rate, restaurants will outrank factories in the number of people employed in less than three years.
The data seem to support this prediction. In four of the past five years, restaurants have seen the best growth ever and, in every month of the last seven years, the number of jobs in the industry has grown at a faster rate than the number of jobs in the economy overall.
However, the caveat is aptly described in the Atlantic article's subheading, which calls out concerns over the relatively low rate of pay for most restaurant jobs and the overall effect this might have on the nation's economy as a whole.
Or as the Atlantic said, "Food-service jobs are eating the economy. Maybe that's not a good thing."