As provinces continue to further reopen their economies and indoor dining returned on a broad scale over the summer, hospitality and foodservice employment rebounded in August.
The foodservice and accommodation sector recovered 74,600 jobs in August compared to July, causing overall employment in the sector to increase to 1,067,700 — its highest level since February 2020.
Ontario added the most jobs in August, with foodservice and accommodation employment rising by 50,600. Meanwhile, employment also rose significantly in British Columbia (7,100), Alberta (5,300), and Quebec (5,300).
From May to August 2021, foodservice and accommodation employment rose by more than 210,000 jobs, creating more jobs than all other industries combined.
However, total employment in the industry is still 153,600 jobs below pre-pandemic levels. No other industry continues to see such a shortfall when compared with figures recorded earlier than March 2020. For example, employment in retail and wholesale trade is 42,700 jobs below pre-pandemic levels.
This is due in no small part to the slower recovery in revenues, with commercial foodservice sales 15 per cent below pre-pandemic levels in June (the most recent data available). By contrast, retail sales were eight per cent above pre-pandemic levels.
Another major factor, of course, has been the ongoing restaurant labour crisis. The foodservice and accommodation sector now has nearly 130,000 vacancies, the majority being restaurant jobs.
A recent survey of restaurant operators found that 80 per cent of respondents are finding it difficult to hire back-of-house workers and 67 per cent are finding it difficult to hire front-of-house staff. Even with sales expected to improve in the coming months, a shortage of workers could derail the recovery in foodservice employment.