Workforce Research

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s research Who Works in the U.S. Restaurant Industry is the first report of its kind in decades. Detailing the opinions of nearly 5,100 Americans who currently work or formerly worked in the industry, as well as those who own or operate restaurants, the study offers compelling insight into the sense of pride, optimism and opportunity among the restaurant workforce.

A majority of restaurant employees said the industry provides good long-term career opportunities. Among those surveyed in Who Works in the U.S. Restaurant Industry, individuals in almost every occupation and age group surveyed felt the restaurant industry affords them career advancement potential. Of those not in their first restaurant job, a solid majority said they have advanced to higher-paying jobs.

One in three Americans got their first job in the restaurant industry, and many take that opportunity to build life long careers. Seven out of 10 restaurant employees said they would likely continue working in the industry until they retire. In fact, the median industry tenure of employees in restaurant manager and business operations positions was 20 years, and for those over 55, the median was more than 30 years.

Additional research by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation shows that first jobs in the restaurant sector help people learn and develop crucial skills and attributes necessary to be successful in the workforce – regardless of industry.
Some of these skills include:

  • Dependability & reliability
  • Teamwork
  • Willingness & ability to learn
  • Professionalism
  • Motivation
  • Initiative

According to information from the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry remains the nation’s second-largest private sector employer this year, with a workforce of 14.4 million. Jobs in the industry represent an excellent way for people to gain valuable career-building knowledge and skills, as well as explore the diverse array of career opportunities in food service.
For more information, see the infographic below.
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Skills Research Infographic