Restaurant Employment Falls to Lowest Level Since 1989

Washington, D.C. – The restaurant industry lost more than three decades of jobs in the last two months, according to National Restaurant Association analysis of preliminary data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today. Eating and drinking places – which are the primary component of the total restaurant and foodservice industry – lost 5.5 million jobs in April, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, which follows a net decline of nearly a half-million jobs in March. This is nearly three times more jobs than any other industry.

“Just three months ago, there were more than 12 million people on the payrolls of eating and drinking places across this country, but today more than six million restaurant workers are home without a job – and that number is going to grow,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs for the Association. “It is critical that Congress provide targeted relief for the restaurant industry and its employees.”

On April 20, the Association sent to Congress a “Blueprint for Recovery” that outlines how Congress can improve the outlook for the industry’s survival by creating a Restaurant and Foodservice Recovery Fund, making necessary fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program that will help make the funds usable for the industry’s unique business plans, and tax credits that will help support the industry as it reopens.

“Following a natural disaster, restaurants are the last businesses to reopen and to start recovery,” said Kennedy. “When it’s one town or one state, we rally to help those restaurants. This is a nationwide disaster that’s going to need a nationwide plan for restaurants to recover.”

For more information about how restaurants have been impacted by the pandemic shutdown, state-by-state, visit

To get the latest coronavirus information and resources for the foodservice industry, go to


Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.6 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We sponsor the industry’s largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart). For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurantsFacebook and YouTube.