Restaurants’ Recovery Takes a Step Back in August

Number of the Day: The most relevant or interesting figure in personal finance

NOTD - 41,500

The Balance

That's how many jobs were lost at restaurants and bars last month, slowing the job market’s momentum, as rising coronavirus cases caused some businesses to scale back.

The U.S. economy as a whole added 235,000 jobs in August, according to government data released Friday, the fewest since January—and much of that slowdown can be chalked up to cutbacks at food and drink places. Virus cases jumped in the U.S. in August, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows, and economists said that businesses that rely on people getting out and spending their money in person felt the greatest effects from the surge.

Bars and restaurants took the biggest hit of all, another obstacle for an industry already under pressure: Nearly half of the industry’s jobs disappeared during the shutdowns caused by the initial wave of the virus last spring. Payrolls had bounced back some since then, with food and drinking establishments gaining jobs in all but three months since April 2020. But there are still 966,300 fewer jobs at restaurants and bars than there were at the pre-pandemic high in February 2020.

The leisure and hospitality sector, which includes bars and restaurants, has been particularly important to the job market’s recovery from the pandemic. Of the 4.5 million jobs added to the economy in 2021, 2.1 million—or 47%—have been in leisure and hospitality. In August, the net job gain in the category was zero.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. St. Louis Fed. "All Employees, Food Services and Drinking Places."

  2. BMO Economics. "Payrolls' Partial Payback."

  3. Centers for Disease Control.” "Covid Tracker."

  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Employment Situation Summary Table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted."

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