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Restaurant Industry Suffers Job Opening Slowdown

The food service and accommodation industry suffered the highest monthly decline in job openings compared to all other sectors in November — declining to 1.3 million openings from 1.6 million in October, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The decline of job openings in the industry isn’t necessarily a sign of weakness or strength for the industry, said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at careers website Glassdoor. Compared to prior months, hiring was relatively flat, but it is still hovering at around 1 million new hires.

“The slowdown in job openings is a natural response to the pandemic worsening as employers hesitate to go full force on hiring until the public-health situation improves,” Zhao said. An estimated 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November, marking a record quit rate of 3%.

As such measures suggest, “employers are still hiring aggressively and are desperate to hold onto the workers they do have,” Zhao mentioned. Importantly, the November JOLTS data does not capture the effect of the omicron variant which began to spread in the U.S. in December.

To attract workers, employers in some cases offered free iPhones, college tuition reimbursement, and higher wages. According to data from the November jobs report, leisure and hospitality saw the highest percentage increase (12.6%) in average hourly pay from Nov. 2020 to Nov. 2021. Overall, total hourly wages for private-sector workers grew by 4.8% from November 2020 to November 2021.

Such incentives may have paid off. “Demand for workers in the leisure and hospitality sector is quite strong, but it is notable that openings in that sector peaked back in July,” Nick Bunker, director of economic research at Indeed Hiring Lab, wrote in a blog post. In July, there were 1.9 million job openings in the sector.

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