Hospitality Sector Becomes America’s Fastest-Growing Employer

job gains, losses, hospitality

At the outset of the COVID pandemic, America’s hospitality sector undertook a swath of layoffs.

Now, the country’s bars, restaurants and hotels are among the fastest-growing employers in the U.S., helping drive the lowest unemployment rate in decades.

That’s according to a Sunday (Mar. 5) report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which says the leisure-and-hospitality industry is rebuilding its workforce as the tech sector contracts.

And because these companies represent a larger number of jobs than the tech industry, it’s led to a shift in hiring patterns that’s kept the job market tight.

“The sectors that are seeing above-average layoffs are those that saw explosive growth after the pandemic,” ZipRecuriter chief economist Julia Pollak told the WSJ, referring to the tech and information sector.

The shift in hiring patterns marks a change from PYMNTS research from last year, when restaurants faced a significant labor-related challenge.

Data from the 2022 edition of PYMNTS’ “Restaurant Readiness Index,” created in collaboration with Paytronix and drawing from a survey of more than 500 quick-service and full-service restaurant managers nationwide, showed that 45% of eateries were having trouble hiring staff, and 46% struggled with retaining customers.

Restaurants are still struggling with rising food prices, leading many of them to digitize or face mounting costs.

Speaking with PYMNTS recently, Tim McLaughlin, CEO of Arlington, Virginia-based restaurant company GoTab, discussed how inflation affects restaurant managers’ approach to technology.

“It’s been good for us to be honest, because they’re having to think about efficiency,” McLaughlin said. “People are finally starting to pay attention to things like labor costs going up.”

He pointed to the example of his company’s digitization of the refund process, part of the company’s Manager App launched last month, as the kind of time savings that operators may overlook. But as costs rise, those minutes add up.

Additionally, with increasing costs, the app lets operators become more involved in processes such as refunds and discounts without having to expend more effort on their part, allowing them to review these decisions remotely from mobile devices.

“If I want to see all the refunds that are happening in my restaurant, because maybe I’m concerned about something, or I want to see all the discounts that are being given, I can actually just subscribe to those on the manager app,” McLaughlin said, “and then it’s going to give me a continuous feed of those and who’s doing them, and I can go yet a step further and approve them.”