Restaurant Industry Recovering, Expects Hiring Challenges In 2022

The restaurant industry is continuing to recover from the pandemic while also facing hiring issues going into 2022. The National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report reviews existing and emerging trends such as technology use, alcohol to-go demand, workforce outlooks, and more. The foodservice industry is predicted to reach $898 billion in sales in 2022 and its workforce is projected to grow by 400,000 jobs, for a total industry employment of 14.9 million by the end of 2022.

More than half of restaurant operators believe it will be a year or more before business conditions return to normal. Food, labor, and occupancy costs are expected to remain high, which will continue to impact restaurant profit margins in 2022.

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“The restaurant and foodservice industry has adapted and is carrying on with absolute resilience, so we’re optimistic about the path toward recovery in the coming year,” said Marvin Irby, interim president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “We still have work to do to ensure that those operators struggling the most can survive. The association will continue to champion the necessary government support needed at the federal and local levels to help keep these businesses — cornerstones of our communities — on a path to better days.”

The report states 50% of restaurant operators predict that recruiting and retaining employees will be a challenge in 2022. The industry is projected to add an average of 200,000 jobs each year between 2023 and 2030, with total staffing levels reaching 16.5 million by 2030. 75% of operators plan to allocate more resources to recruiting and retaining employees.

“Restaurants and their patrons have found themselves in a ‘new normal.’ Given emergent technology, changing consumer behavior and dining preferences, and the extraordinary challenges of the last two years, the industry is unlikely to ever completely return to its pre-pandemic state,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group at the National Restaurant Association. “While recovery speed varies across the industry by segment, the constant innovation and sustained flexibility of restaurant operators are creating a new future for the restaurant industry. There will continue to be ample opportunities for growth in 2022 and beyond.”