(Washington, DC) – The National Restaurant Association’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy, John Gay, today testified at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.  Gay focused his testimony on the importance of comprehensive immigration reform to businesses, including restaurants.  Gay is also co-chair of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC), which includes more than 50 national businesses and trade associations seeking reform of America’s broken immigration system.   

Gay said that as the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, the restaurant industry is estimated to add two million jobs over the next decade, a 15 percent increase in the workforce.  However, over the same period, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the U.S. labor force will grow only 10 percent.  Over the next decade, the National Restaurant Association projects that the number of jobs in the foodservice business will grow one and a half times as fast as the U.S. labor force.  Even more challenging, the number of 16- to 24-year-olds in the labor force — half the industry’s workforce — will not grow at all.

“We have a serious demographic problem in the United States,” Gay stated.  “Without an overhaul to our dysfunctional immigration system, we are in danger of not having the workers we need to grow our economy.”

Highlighting the importance of the restaurant industry to the U.S. economy, Gay cited that an estimated seven million other jobs in industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and construction are supported by the restaurant industry.  It is estimated that every dollar spent by consumers in restaurants generates an additional $2.34 spent in the nation’s economy. 

Gay also pointed out the need for an employee verification system that is workable for both small and large businesses; an improved new worker program; and a pathway to legal status for the undocumented currently living in the United States.

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