The Shocking Number Of Bar And Restaurant Jobs Lost In December

Restaurants continue to close as the coronavirus pandemic takes an ongoing toll on establishments that depend on foot traffic, sit-down service, and crowded attractions. The U.S. Department of Labor reported, "employment in leisure and hospitality declined by 498,000, with three-quarters of the decrease in food services and drinking places (-372,000)" (via US. Bureau of Labor and Statistics). While the recent report shows a slightly better look for the overall economy, where some losses are offset by other industry gains such as home improvement, that's not a distinction that will help the many servers, cooks, bartenders, and restaurant owners who are struggling. 

While there was a seasonal improvement for many, that bump has flattened out as the pandemic continues (via Eater). And though some restaurants have been able to reopen and rehire, another closure is always on the horizon. Says co-owner of Fulton Market Kitchen, Relu Stan, "I understand why we have to shut down. What I don't get is why it's always such short notice" (via New York Times). Stan describes how for restaurants such as his, there isn't any money in takeout – his food just doesn't travel well. Stan is not alone in his struggle.

COVID has devastated the restaurant industry

Food and beverage workers not only got penalized by COVID restrictions but forgotten by so many bailouts that benefited other industries. While the $900 billion stimulus package passed in December will help struggling workers in the airline and entertainment industries, there is no provision for hospitality owners and staff (via Eater). The publication is quick to note that there will likely be paycheck protection loans and possibly more, but there is no guarantee if the remaining support will be enough for struggling food and beverage workers. 

Luca De Pietro, owner of Tarallucci e Vino restaurant group in Manhattan shares on the effects of COVID on the industry, "I don't know if [the second PPP] would change the fate of restaurants. I see restaurants closing every day. Some of them may never reopen" (via CNBC).

In December over 10.7 million people in the U.S were unemployed and seeking work, while 7.3 million more residents were also jobless and not yet currently seeking employment. While the current food-and-beverage news is mostly about struggle, there is a bright spot in the establishment of the Guy Fieri-led Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF) currently helping more than 43,000 restaurant workers who are struggling due to pandemic related closures and restrictions. The fundraised more than $21.5 million in support of the industry.