US restaurant hiring rebounding, wages flattening

New statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that amid the ongoing economic turmoil, the landscape is changing. Restaurants are finding room to hire more workers while wages are levelling out.

The new data showed that restaurants and bars increased their pace of hiring in July, adding more staff than they did in any of the past six months.

Food and drinking establishments added 74,100 jobs last month, according to the data. That remains over 600,000 workers short of where the industry was pre-pandemic in February 2020, but represents an improvement over most of 2022

Alongside that hiring jump was the first decrease in average hourly wages in the industry for the first time since May 2020 — albeit a tiny one. Average hourly earnings for nonsupervisory leisure and hospitality workers declined by 0.16 per cent in July. While that remains eight per cent above where they were a year ago, it suggests that wage rates appear to be flattening after two years of growth.

Restaurant Business suggests that this could add to concerns about inflation. As job growth continues in the industry amid already-high inflation, competition for workers and for wages could drive up prices, a trend that has already been seen on menus across North America. It could also prompt further interest rate hikes as the U.S. Federal Reserve looks to curb inflation.

Despite statistics showing that restaurant hiring increased in July, many restaurants still report that they cannot afford to hire more staff even if they are in urgent need of more workers, suggesting there may be a disconnect between how restaurateurs perceive the state of the industry and what the data reflects.