Facts About the Restaurant Industry

America’s Restaurants Feed the U.S. Economy

Restaurants are the cornerstone of every community – giving families, residents, and tourists a memorable place to gather and celebrate. Restaurants also provide jobs and build careers for tens of millions of people. The economic impact of the U.S. restaurant and foodservice industry is as follows:

1 Million
Number of eating and drinking locations nationwide in 2017.

14.7 Million
(10 percent of the U.S. Workforce): Number of restaurant and foodservice jobs nationwide in 2017.

$799 Billion
(4 percent of the U.S. GDP): Projected sales for the restaurant and foodservice industry nationwide in 2017.

$2 Trillion
annual economic impact of the restaurant industry.

America’s Restaurants Provide Career Opportunities

From dishwasher to server, hourly employee to executive office, the restaurant industry offers lucrative long-term career opportunities for individuals of every skill level. The restaurant and foodservice industry is the second-largest private sector employer in the United States. One in two individuals have worked in the restaurant industry at some point in their life. One in three individuals found their first job within the industry. Millions of people continue to enjoy vibrant careers within this fast-growing profession. The following represents key employment and demographic data:

75 Percent of Employees
Believe restaurants offer a career path of upward mobility.

14.7 Million Employees
Size of the restaurant industry workforce – 1 in 10 Americans.

7 of 10 Employees
Will continue working in the restaurant industry until they retire.

71 Percent of Employees Ages 18 to 24
Grow their careers in the industry after their first job.

16.3 Million
Number of projected restaurant industry employees by 2027 – an increase of 1.6 million from 2017.

9 of 10 workers 35 or older
Grow their careers in the industry after their first job.

1.6 million
The industry employs people between the ages of 16 and 19. The median age of restaurant workers is 28.6, the lowest of all major industries.

Schedule Flexibility
Restaurant schedules allow employees flexibility so they can attend school, work other jobs, or care for family.

Restaurants are the Fabric of America

The restaurant and foodservice industry is one of the most diverse industries in America. It is the leader when it comes to providing entrepreneurial opportunities, offering training experience, and many pathways to success for men and women of all ethnicities and backgrounds. For example, the industry boasts more minority managers than any other industry. In addition, more than 80 percent of restaurant owners started in an entry-level position within the industry. The new restaurants these entrepreneurs open add to the vibrancy of communities and the U.S.’s small business sector – firms with less than 20 workers comprise 89.4 percent of the economy. In short, they are the small businesses that give our communities culture, character, and heart.

The professional skills gained while working in the restaurant industry are applicable to all careers. This is important to highlight, since the U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043. The following represents key minority ownership and growth opportunity data:

80 Percent
Restaurant owners who started in an entry-level position within the industry.

40 Percent
Increase in the number of restaurants owned by women in the past five years (50 percent of restaurant owners are women).

51 Percent
Increase in the number of restaurants owned by Hispanics in the past five years.

59 Percent
Increase in the number of restaurants owned by African-Americans in the past five years.

23 Percent
Percentage of restaurant workers who are immigrants.

Immigrant Owners
Immigrants are more likely to be business owners in the restaurant and foodservice industry.

29 Percent
Percentage of immigrant-owned businesses in the combined restaurant/hotel sector, compared to just 14 percent of all U.S. firms.

Minority Managers
The restaurant industry boasts more minority managers than any other industry.

America’s Restaurants Serve More than Meals
Restaurants are the heart and soul of their communities, where neighbors and families gather to share good times, and where they turn during times of need. Overwhelmingly, operators respond with food, kindness and support. For this reason, 80 percent of consumers agree that restaurants are good corporate citizens and 72 percent agree that local operators give back to their local communities. They do. In fact, 94 percent of restaurants make charitable contributions each year.
The charitable giving of America’s restaurants amounts to more than $3 billion a year. These contributions are made mostly to organizations and charities in local communities and 70 percent make direct cash contributions. In addition, restaurateurs and their teams volunteer and mentor within their communities.
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