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September 4 – Restaurant Industry Remains Hardest Hit By COVID Job Losses for Sixth Consecutive Month

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September 4, 2020


Jeff Solnet

Restaurant Industry Remains Hardest Hit By COVID Job Losses for Sixth Consecutive Month

Nearly 1 in 4 Job Losses Since February Come from Restaurants and Bars

Restaurants Regained Just 5% of Pandemic Job Losses in August, Less than Nearly Every Other Industry 

Unemployment Rates for Leisure and Hospitality 72% Higher than Next-Highest Industry


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), released the following statement regarding the Department of Labor's newly-released August jobs report, which shows food and beverage establishments gained 134,000 jobs last month, compared to the 2.5 million jobs still gone from the outset of this pandemic:

“The longer Congress waits to pass a relief program for restaurants, the more people will be permanently unemployed because of this pandemic. Many of America’s 11 million independent restaurant workers remain jobless because restaurants cannot afford to safely reopen, stay open, and generate the kind of revenue they did before the pandemic began. Restaurants are America’s favorite first jobs, we employ more than one million single mothers, and we hire more people from marginalized communities as managers than any other industry. As many of America’s 500,000 independent restaurants scrape their last pennies together and outdoor diners begin to feel a chill in the air, the time to save our industry is running out. When Congress returns this month, they must pass the RESTAURANTS Act.” 

The jobs report comes as Congress returns to Washington next week and will likely restart negotiation efforts for the next round of federal aid for small businesses. The Senate's working proposal, dubbed the HEALS Act, does not contain direct aid for independent bars and restaurants. The bill proposes more Paycheck Protection Program funding, but that program has been largely unhelpful for the industry: as of August 8th, food and accommodation services received just 8.1% of PPP dollars, despite food and drinking places comprising nearly a quarter of the pandemic's job losses.

Independent restaurants and bars have been fighting for the inclusion of the RESTAURANTS Act in this round of federal relief. The bill would establish a $120 billion fund for small restaurants and bars to cover costs such as payroll, rent, supplies, and PPE. Originally introduced in June by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), alongside Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA 1), the RESTAURANTS Act now has 190 cosponsors in the House and 27 cosponsors in the Senate.


The Independent Restaurant Coalition was formed by chefs and independent restaurant owners across the country who have built a grassroots movement to secure vital protections for the nation’s 500,000 independent restaurants and the more than 11 million restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Coalition’s leadership team includes Tyler Akin, José Andrés, Kevin Boehm, Sean Brock, Katie Button, Andrew Carmellini, Ashley Christensen, Jeanie Chunn, Amanda Cohen, Tom Colicchio, Nina Compton, Rosa Garcia, Suzanne Goin, Gregory Gourdet, Will Guidara, Mason Hereford, Sam Kass, Max Katzenberg, Mike Lata, Camilla Marcus, Ivy Mix, Kwame Onwuachi, Patrick Phelan, Erika Polmar, Naomi Pomeroy, Niki Russ Federman, Steven Satterfield, Michael Shemtov, Nancy Silverton, Frank Stitt, Bobby Stuckey, Robert St. John, Caroline Styne, Jill Tyler, and Andrew Zimmern. 

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