(Washington, DC)  The restaurant and foodservice industry continues to be a leader in job growth and career opportunities in the nation’s economy, according to February employment data released last Friday by the Department of Labor.

Last month, 58,000 private sector jobs were created – 21,000 of those jobs were in the restaurant and foodservice industry – accounting for over one in three jobs (36 percent).  In addition, employment growth since February 2006 revealed that foodservice employment posted a strong 3.9 percent 12-month gain, versus a lower 1.5 percent growth rate for employment overall. 

“The fact that our industry accounted for one in three jobs this past month and over 348,000 jobs in this past year are indications of the urgent need to protect employment in our industry and to include targeted tax relief in the current federal minimum wage debate.  Our economy relies on these jobs, and adequate tax relief is important in order for us to sustain this positive job growth,” said Peter Kilgore, Association acting interim president and chief executive officer.

“While no package can completely mitigate the impact of a minimum wage increase, we urge lawmakers to recognize the importance of granting small businesses the necessary resources to partially offset the consequences.  Certainly the $8.3 billion in tax relief that the Senate approved 94-3 represents a larger commitment to job providers.  Ultimately, the Association is hopeful that both restaurant depreciation and the FICA tax credit extension are included in any final small business tax package,” said Kilgore.  

“Restaurants are found in every city across the country and serve as the cornerstone of our economy, rewarding career opportunities and community involvement,” said Peter Kilgore.  “In addition to the job growth within the restaurant industry, nine out of 10 salaried employees at table service restaurants – including owners, operators and managers – started as hourly employees; and more than nine out of 10 restaurateurs contribute food, money or other resources to their communities.

The National Restaurant Association has been a leader in the debate on minimum wage on behalf of the restaurant industry. The Association chairs the Coalition for Job Opportunities, a group of more than 30 business organizations opposed to government-mandated increases in the entry-level wage.

ENDS: The National Restaurant Association, founded in 1919, is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which is comprised of 935,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a work force of 12.8 million employees – making it the cornerstone of the economy, career and employment opportunities and community involvement.  Along with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association works to represent, educate and promote the rapidly growing industry. For more information, visit our Web site at www.restaurant.org

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If you have questions, please contact the National Restaurant Association’s Media Relations Department at media@dineout.org, or call (202) 973-3677, and remember to visit our Web site www.restaurant.org frequently to learn why restaurants are the cornerstone of the economy, career and employment opportunities, and community involvement. 

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