One of my favorite movie lines is from the movie “A Christmas Story”. After the Bumpus dogs demolish the Thanksgiving turkey, Ralphie’s dad says, while holding a half-eaten drumstick, “we are going out to eat”. We Americans love to eat our food out, as evidenced by the fact that 1 in 30 Americans are employed in the restaurant industry, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census. Moreover employment in the restaurant industry continues to tick up as shown by the following table.
The Census Bureau recently released new 2015 County Business Patterns data which includes data on employees per industry based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). County Business Patterns is based on the number of employees for the payroll period including March 12 of the applicable year so it does not really factor in seasonal workers. The largest employers on a per-capita basis are in the restaurant industry with 3.14% employed in NAICS code 7225 which are restaurant groupings. This is based on U.S. population of about 320 million. Using employable Americans (those 18 and over or 240 million), the number is over 4%.
Breaking this down further, full-service restaurants employ more people on a per-capita basis than limited-service, or fast food restaurants. Also included in our top five is another food-related industry, grocery stores (NAICS 445110), which employed nearly 2.6 million workers in 2015. We Americans love our food and we employ lots of people in the food distribution system to get us our food. However, when it comes to the payroll cost, food service is not at the top of the list but health related industries dominate. We will look at that next week.