Restaurant hiring slowed in August, new stats show

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Restaurants and bars slowed their hiring in August, filling just 18,200 jobs, or about a quarter of the vacancies they filled the prior month, according to new government statistics. 

The figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the industry is still about 600,000 workers short of its pre-pandemic employment level. 

BLS reported an overall slowdown in hiring and job creation for the month. The agency said the number of unemployed workers rose by 344,000 in August, nudging up the unemployment rate by two tenths of a percentage point, to 3.7%. In total, 6 million Americans were unemployed at the end of the month, the agency said.

Restaurants and other businesses in the agency’s Leisure and Hospitality Sector followed the trend. They collectively filled 31,000 jobs last month, compared with 95,000 hires in July and 202,000 in August of last year.

Hiring by retailers and employers of temporary service workers—two businesses that compete head-to-head with restaurants for labor—both posted increases in hiring.

BLS noted that the pandemic continues to have a negative effect on employment. About 1.9 workers reported to the agency that they’d not worked or had their hours cut in August because their employers had closed or lost business because of COVID-19.

Another finding with significance for restaurants: The percentage of people who worked at home because of the pandemic declined to 6.4%, from a level of 7.1% in July. The news is likely to be welcomed by bakery-cafes and other concepts that depend on office workers for their breakfast and lunch traffic.

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