The economy gained 428,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 3.6 percent, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job growth was widespread with the largest gains seen in the leisure and hospitality industries.
Restaurants continue to expand payrolls. Eating and drinking places added a new 43,800 jobs in April on a seasonally adjusted basis. However, the gain was the smallest monthly increase since December 2020 and April was the fifth consecutive month of slowing job growth in the restaurant industry.
Although the industry has bounced back from the massive job losses that occurred during the first year of COVID-19, it still employs 794,000 fewer people than before the pandemic – a 6.4 percent decrease, according to the National Restaurant Association. That shortage is not for a lack of job opportunities. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data from the BLS shows that unfilled job openings in the hospitality sector exceed total hires by an average of 500,000 each month between October 2021 and March 2022. That is a significant reversal from the monthly average of 230,000 more hires than job openings between 2000 and 2019.
“Until these two indicators converge to become more in line with historical trends, the warning lights of a labor crisis will continue to blink red,” the National Restaurant Association said.