California Restaurant Jobs: Is The Industry Recovering?

Monday, February 15, 2021

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Restaurant workers are among the Golden State residents who have been most at risk of unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began almost 11 months ago.

California is one of the 46 states that have seen overall losses in restaurant industry employment from the beginning of the pandemic to the end of 2020. Only Indiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma ended 2020 with more people employed in the industry than in February of that year. Idaho saw no change.

The trends are not going in the right direction nationally, however.

A net 19,400 restaurant industry jobs were lost in January, according to early data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics that accounts for seasonally adjusted totals. The January monthly loss came after more than 400,000 jobs were lost in December, according to a report from

In California, there were more than 1.4 million restaurant industry jobs in February 2020, the final full month before the pandemic. That number dropped by 60,000 in March, then a significant decrease to 770,000 in April.

Those numbers steadily increased over the months to come, until much of California went into a stay-at-home order in December. By the end of the year, there were about 1 million restaurant jobs in California.

Jasmine Slater is among the 100,000 or so Florida residents to have been laid off in the restaurant industry since the start of the pandemic. Her job as a waitress at a family steakhouse in Orlando was bringing in about $600 a week, enough to pay her bills and support two children and herself, the Washington Post reported.

She has had to deplete her savings account and survive on $130 a week unemployment benefits since she was laid off in March.

"It's been 10 months, but I'm still shocked, disheartened, devastated," Slater told The Post. "I've gone through my savings, I've gone through my resources… The bills are piling up and my kids are looking to me for answers I can't provide."

The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is based on the 12th day of every month, so the March numbers are more in line with pre-pandemic totals.

Nationally, the industry began gradually improving every month after the initial sharp decrease in jobs seen after the start of the pandemic last March and April — however, the downward national trend has now gone on for three months, reported.

Over the past three months, the number of jobs lost in the industry represents more than 10 percent of the ones that were recovered during the six-month period following the initial coronavirus lockdowns, according to the report.

Category: COVID-19, Restaurants