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New figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' JOLTS program show that job openings in the restaurants-and-accommodations sector reached a 6-year high in January.
According to a news release from the National Restaurant Association, there were 534,000 job openings at restaurants and lodging establishments on the last business day in January, on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
"This represented the highest level since December 2007, when 535,000 restaurant and lodging jobs were available," said the NRA's chief economist, Bruce Grindy. "After hitting a cyclical peak in late 2007, job openings fell sharply during the Great Recession. During 2009 and 2010, the restaurants-and-accommodations sector averaged fewer than 250,000 jobs openings each month. Job openings trended upward as the economy improved, with the number averaging roughly 450,000 each month during 2013."
The figures from January represent the first time since pre-recession that monthly job openings exceeded the half-million level in the hospitality sector.
While this upward trend is a positive indication that the economy continues to improve, it also likely signals a reemergence of traditional labor challenges for the restaurant industry, Grindy adds.
"Roughly four out of 10 restaurant operators said they expect recruiting and retaining employees to be more difficult for their business in 2014 than it was in 2013, while only one out of 10 said it would be less challenging," he said. "As a result, restaurant operators across all segments said they intend to focus more on labor issues in 2014."
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