Restaurant hiring slowed in August, new statistics show

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

Figures released Friday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show the industry is still short of about 600,000 workers at its pre-pandemic employment level.

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

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

The hiring by retailers and employers of temporary service workers — two businesses that compete directly with restaurants for labor — both showed an increase in hiring.

The BLS noted that the pandemic continues to have a negative effect on employment. About 1.9 workers told the agency that they had not worked or had their hours reduced in August because their employers closed or lost business due to COVID-19.

Another significant finding for restaurants: the percentage of people working from home due to the pandemic fell to 6.4%, from 7.1% in July. The news should be welcomed by bakery-cafés and other concepts that depend on office workers for their breakfast and lunch business.

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