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January 8 – Over 372,000 Restaurant and Bar Workers Lost Their Jobs Over the Holidays in Largest Job Loss Since April

a chair sitting in front of a wooden table

January 8, 2021

Jeff Solnet

Over 372,000 Restaurant and Bar Workers Lost Their Jobs Over the Holidays in Largest Job Loss Since April

Restaurants and Bars Make Up 73% of December Losses; Lead Overall Pandemic Job Losses for Eleventh Consecutive Month

Unemployment in Leisure and Hospitality is 157% Higher Than the National Average

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) released the following statement in response to 
Bureau of Labor Statistics’ December jobs report, which showed food and beverage establishments shedding over 372,000 jobs:

“New changes to the Paycheck Protection Program will be too little, too late for hundreds of thousands of people left without a paycheck this holiday season,” said the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “The people who work in restaurants and bars are uniquely hurt by this pandemic, and don’t deserve it. Over 110,000 restaurants and bars – over one in six across the country – have been left with no choice but to permanently close since March, destroying an important ladder of economic opportunity for millions of people. Restaurants, bakeries, bars, and coffee shops employ more non-white managers and young people than any other industry. Immigrants, a million single mothers, and the formerly incarcerated rely on restaurants and bars for their livelihood. We cannot leave these communities jobless.  A direct relief plan like the RESTAURANTS Act is vital to ensure there are places to work when restaurants can fully reopen and rehire their teams.

“Congress has not done enough to protect restaurant workers’ paychecks during the pandemic. Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, and President-elect Biden have all voiced their support for providing independent restaurants and bars with the direct relief we need to survive. We hope the new government acts swiftly on a plan to save restaurants.”

Restaurants and bars have lost over 2.4 million jobs since the start of the pandemic -- far more than any other industry. This is the greatest net loss of jobs for these businesses since April, when restrictions were at their tightest. Unemployment in Leisure and Hospitality is 157% higher than the national average.

Over 34,000 members of the independent restaurant and bar community 
signed a letter to Congress in December urging action on the RESTAURANTS Act, a bipartisan bill that would establish a $120 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund allowing struggling businesses to survive the pandemic.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer 
said of the December relief package: “anyone who thinks this bill is enough doesn’t know what’s going on in America… We need to do much more for restaurants. We have bipartisan legislation to deliver the relief that’s truly needed, the RESTAURANTS Act, that regrettably did not make it into this legislation”. President-elect Joe Biden agreed that direct relief for restaurants was needed during an economic roundtable in December, remarking on aid to restaurants: “It should not be a loan, it should be a guarantee.”

 Visit for the latest information on dining restrictions and closures.


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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