Workforce

The foodservice industry lost 5.5 million jobs last month

New federal employment figures show further fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photograph: Shutterstock

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a massive impact on the state of U.S. employment, as the country’s foodservice industry lost 5.5 million jobs in April alone.

In addition, 23.1 million Americans were unemployed in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, and the U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 14.7%, a leap of more than 10 percentage points from March. This is the largest month-to-month increase ever noted in the available data, which goes back to 1948, the bureau said. 

Though lost jobs were “widespread,” the biggest jolt was felt within the sector of leisure and hospitality, of which foodservice is a part, as restaurants and dining operations across the country were forced to close to dine-in business to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

On the noncommercial side of the industry, foodservice operators have been hard at work communicating with staff, including those who have been recently furloughed, during these uncharted times. Many have also shifted job responsibilities as their meal program sales declined, tasking employees with fewer items tied to food prep and more that involve cleaning, sanitizing and staff development.   

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