Restaurant Industry Adds 560,000 New Jobs, Rebounding Faster Than Overall Economy

Here's some good news for the restaurant biz: The National Restaurant Association reports that more than 560,000 restaurant jobs have been added since the start of the employment recovery in March of 2010. More than 200,000 of those were created in the last six months.

The numbers reflect the growing job market, which is rebounding after a long 18-month recession.

Dawn Sweeney, the association's president and chief executive officer, stressed the importance of the restaurant industry's progress, saying, "The restaurant industry strongly contributes to the health of our nation’s economy by driving job growth across industry segments, and providing rewarding career and employment opportunities for millions."

One example of the hiring boom is at Landry’s Inc., which encompasses more than 400 restaurants, hotels and casinos. In an interview with Bloomberg, CEO Tilman J. Fertitta said that the company can't find enough workers. “Business is good,” he told the news service. “The consumer is spending money.” He's currently looking for about 40 employees for Landry’s Inc.'s corporate office in Houston and thousands more for roles across its many U.S. properties.

The National Restaurant Association also points out that the industry's growth has outpaced the overall economy's recovery in recent months.

In the 12 months ending March 2012, eating and drinking place employment jumped 3.2 percent, more than double the 1.5 percent increase in total U.S. employment during the same period. In addition, 2012 marks the 13th consecutive year in which restaurant employment growth has outpaced overall employment growth in the United States.

However, the news comes amid reports of wages falling across the industry. Online compensation data website PayScale recently reported that wages for food service and restaurant dropped 0.6 percent from the first three months of 2011 to the first three months of 2012. In the same stretch, U.S. wages rost 1.4 percent on average across all industries.