Job growth within the restaurant industry slowed "significantly" last month just after employment briefly rebounded in the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus-related lockdowns, according to a new report.
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Job losses at drinking and eating places exceeded job gains by a wide margin, with 32 states seeing a net decline of jobs between August and September, according to the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) latest findings.
According to the NRA, eating and drinking places are considered the "primary component of the total restaurant and foodservice industry." Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, eating and drinking places employed 12 million out of the total restaurant and foodservice workforce which totaled nearly 16 million.
By comparison, only 18 states and the District of Columbia saw employment levels rise in September. To put the numbers in perspective, eating and drinking places are now operating with about 2.3 million fewer jobs than during February's pre-coronavirus peak, the NRA said.
This is further evidence that the pandemic continues to transform the economy, forcing millions of Americans to face the prospect of a permanent job loss that will force some to seek work in new industries or occupations.
The NRA pointed to the cooler weather as a key driver in some staffing reductions up in the northern part of the U.S. However, the trends were not uniform, the group said.
While Massachusetts saw the biggest employment decline in September, with a net loss of 7,900 eating and drinking place jobs, some Southern states also faced sizable losses, according to the report.
Florida faced a net loss of about 4,600 jobs, while Maine (-3,800), Virginia (-3,400) and Minnesota (-3,300) also endured "sizable restaurant job losses" that same month, the NRA said.
Comparatively, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut saw employment rise in September: The tri-state area added more than 20,000 restaurant jobs combined.
Even still, overall restaurant employment in 47 states and the District of Columbia still remained below February’s pre-coronavirus level. Eating and drinking place jobs within Hawaii were still down nearly 50% while jobs within Vermont and the District of Columbia were down more than 30%, according to the report.
Indiana, Idaho and Mississippi were the only states that had more jobs in September compared to February.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.