December 3 — Restaurants Still Down Over 750,000 Jobs After Paltry Jobs Report as Industry Toils Without Additional Relief
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 3, 2021
Restaurants Still Down Over 750,000 Jobs After Paltry Jobs Report as Industry Toils Without Additional Relief
86% of Restaurants That Haven’t Received Grant Relief At Risk of Closure if Congress Does Not Replenish RRF
WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, the Independent Restaurant Coalition released the following statement in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics November jobs report indicating that restaurant and bar employment is still down over 750,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic. The industry gained a meager 11,000 jobs in the past month, as small businesses nationwide grapple with 20 months of debt, rising food costs, consumer hesitancy from the Omicron variant, and the 193 days they languished in the Restaurant Revitalization Fund application portal, waiting for Congress to step up and deliver the relief they need.
“Tens of thousands of restaurants are in danger of closing permanently leaving hundreds of thousands of jobs unfilled this winter,” said Erika Polmar, Executive Director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “Slow growth for restaurant and bar jobs in today’s employment report shows that we can’t build back better without a vibrant restaurant industry. Restaurant owners around the country have been talking to their members of Congress every day and have secured widespread bipartisan support to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Only a third of businesses that needed relief received it. Congress can’t leave the rest of the industry behind when it comes to pandemic relief — our elected officials need to get this done. Without relief, 86% of restaurants that have yet to receive an RRF grant will be forced to close and employment reports will continue to reflect the loss of one of our country’s largest private sector employers.”
America is home to over 500,000 independent restaurants and bars, which supported 16 million jobs before the pandemic. Just 101,004 restaurants and bars received an RRF grant this year, but nearly 200,000 were left behind in the first round of funding and are in danger of permanent closure. Restaurants and bars lost over $280 billion during the pandemic yet only received $28.6 billion in targeted relief.
The Biden Administration has not indicated whether they support the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act, which would provide an additional $60 billion in funding to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The plan is gaining rapid bipartisan support in Congress– at least 223 members of the House of Representatives and 43 members of the Senate have indicated their support for the bill, which was introduced by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in the Senate and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) in the House.
Restaurants and bars are struggling to survive 20 months of debt, rising supplier costs and the omicron variant threatens to push more restaurants and bars into permanent closure.
More than 90,000 restaurants and bars have closed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Over 86% of restaurant and bar owners report concern they will close without an RRF grant according to an IRC survey.
The Omicron variant is already affecting restaurant reservations in cities around the country. Reservations in Baltimore (34%), Chicago (39%), Denver (21%), New Orleans (29%), and New York (48%) are far below their 2019 levels.
Nearly 1 in 5 (18.3%) of restaurant owners reported having their credit scores reduced below 570 during the pandemic — many of these operators cannot take on any more loans.
60% of adults changed their dining habits due to the Delta variant. The Omicron variant threatens to inflict the same hesitancy amongst diners around the country.
The prices of supplies have surged in the last year including beef and veal (57%), grains (55%), eggs (36.7%) and shortening and cooking oil (41.5%).
These businesses have a pile of debt that is continuing to build — 51% of restaurants could not pay their September rent.
Suppliers are joining together to push for restaurant relief as well. Recently, nearly 30 winemakers, restaurant suppliers and trade groups, including Toast, Baldor Foods, US Foods and DoorDash called on Congress to refill the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) in a letter sent to Congressional leadership by the Independent Restaurant Coalition. These organizations, representing many of the five million workers restaurants support through the supply chain, cautioned Members of Congress about the cataclysmic effects allowing restaurants and bars to close would have on their businesses.
ABOUT THE IRC:
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 and bar workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.