As provinces further reopened their economies over the summer, the foodservice and accommodation sector recovered 74,600 jobs in August compared to July. As a result, overall foodservice and accommodation employment increased to 1,067,700 — the highest level since February 2020.
Ontario added the most jobs in August, with foodservice and accommodation employment rising by 50,600. Meanwhile, employment also rose in British Columbia (+7,100), Alberta (+5,300), and Quebec (+5,300).
No other sector continues to face such a shortfall
Employment in the foodservice and accommodation sector increased by more than 210,000 jobs from May to August 2021, creating more jobs during this period than all other industries combined.
Despite these gains, total employment in the foodservice and accommodation sector is still 153,600 jobs below pre-pandemic levels. By contrast, employment in retail and wholesale trade remains 27,900 jobs below pre-pandemic levels.
The sluggish recovery in hospitality jobs is partially the result of a slower recovery in revenues. Commercial foodservice sales were 15% below pre-pandemic levels in June (the most recent data available) compared to retail sales which were 8% above pre-pandemic levels.
Labour shortages could create a long-term crisis
The other major challenge facing restaurants has been the dramatic rise in labour shortages. There were already 68,000 unfilled positions in the foodservice and accommodation sector before the COVID-19 crisis exacerbated the situation — of which nearly 60,000 were foodservice job vacancies; according to the latest data from Statistics Canada, the foodservice and accommodation sector now has nearly 130,000 vacancies, the majority being restaurant jobs.
A recent survey of restaurant operators found that 80% of respondents are finding it difficult to hire back-of-house workers and 67% are finding it difficult to hire front-of-house staff. Even with sales expected to improve in the coming months, a shortage of workers could derail the recovery in foodservice employment.
Restaurants are key to closing Canada’s pandemic job loss gap
Restaurants remain key to fulfilling federal election promises to create over a million jobs in recovery and restore the national employment rate to pre-pandemic levels, as there are now only 156,000 jobs still missing from the entire Canadian economy since February 2020.
With a federal election coming up on Sept. 20, we asked restaurateurs what Canada’s next government can do to help them remain in the picture: Visit SupportRestaurants.ca to hear what they had to say, and to read our full list of recommendations to help restaurants preserve their livelihoods, continue employing 1.2 million Canadians and keep contributing to vibrant communities across the country.