Skip to Main Content

Restaurant employment tumbles 26,600 jobs in March

Restaurant employment tumbles 26,600 jobs in March

Canada’s restaurant and accommodation industry shed 26,600 jobs in March compared to February —  the largest job loss of any major industry.  Following a sharp decrease in January, employment partially rebounded in February, but was then offset by a decline in March.  After adjusting for seasonal variation, employment in the restaurant and accommodation industry is now at its lowest point since December 2022.

The decline in employment reflects sharply weaker consumer spending at restaurants so far this year.  In January, the average Canadian spent 6% less at restaurants compared to January 2023*.   Meanwhile, restaurant owners faced rising operating costs. Over the last two years, total food costs soared by 24%, labour costs rose by at least 15%, and insurance rates skyrocketed – with many seeing an increase between 30% to 60% or more.

Provincially, Ontario and Quebec reported the largest declines in employment. Employment in British Columbia fell for the third consecutive month, resulting in 9,400 fewer jobs in the first three months of 2024. 

Restaurants Canada is closely monitoring the employment data as another sign that the restaurant industry continues to struggle. Declining sales, combined with rising bankruptcies and lower employment, align with Restaurants Canada’s forecast that the first half of the year will be difficult. 

Click here for our latest forecast.

*Commercial foodservice sales in January 2024 compared to January 2023 once adjusted for menu inflation and population growth.

Chris Elliott

As the Chief Economist and Vice President of Research for Restaurants Canada, Chris Elliott manages and produces a comprehensive research program that has made Restaurants Canada a leading source of information for and about Canada’s $114-billion foodservice industry. Chris tracks and analyzes key industry and economic indicators and translates them into member reports and publications. He also provides research to support Restaurants Canada’s lobbying efforts on issues that affect foodservice operators – from payroll taxes to food costs.

Chris has worked with Restaurants Canada for over 20 years, has a Bachelor of Arts and Master Degree in Economics and specializes in economic modelling and forecasting.