Restaurant Industry Boosts Labor Forecast; Older Workers Fill the Gap Left by Teens

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Ch-ch-changes in the restaurant labor force!

The recent jobs report contained some good news for once, and restaurants are part of the reason. As Ron Rugless at Nation’s Restaurant News reports, employers overall added more jobs than expected in the month of February, a total of 295,000.

Moreover, a whopping 58,700 of those came from restaurants and bars. This continues a positive trend for the sector, which has consistently added jobs for the last 60 months straight. It’s also the biggest jump we’ve seen since December 2012.

When it comes to the makeup of that labor force, did you know that a third of working teenagers today are employed by restaurants? That’s a huge number, but it doesn’t tell the full story. The amount of teens working in restaurants has actually fallen dramatically, from 41.3 percent in 2007 to 34.5 percent in 2013.

Of course, that’s not all bad. As National Restaurant Association Senior Vice President of Research Hudson Riehle observes,

“The U.S. workforce continues to change, and the pool of restaurant job candidates with it. While the industry will remain an important training ground for young people getting their first job experience, it also provides opportunity for more seasoned workers looking for rewarding employment with flexible schedules.”

In the same time period that employment of teens in the restaurant labor force has fallen, workers over the age of 55 have increased their representation in the industry by 32 percent, or 180,000 individuals. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

The article notes that, as the labor pool shrinks, restaurants are getting creative about finding a new pool of applicants to fill the vacancies. Riehle explains,

“Youth workforce participation has been declining for years, and teenagers have traditionally been a significant part of the industry’s workforce, often filling part-time and seasonal positions. However, aging baby boomers are staying in the workforce longer and filling some of those positions. And though older adults are a relatively small proportion of the industry’s workforce now, that number will only expand in future.”

Full Story: Restaurants, bars added 58,700 net new jobs in February

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