From: Los Angeles Times
The restaurant industry, long a reliable indicator of the underlying economy, has become an economic standout at a time of financial market turmoil and global uncertainty.
Sales at food service and drinking places jumped nearly 8% last year from 2014, more than double the pace of growth for total retail sales.
Employment at restaurants and watering holes grew nearly twice the rate of all other sectors combined over the past five years. Last month, eating and drinking places created 47,000 new jobs, more than what manufacturers added all last year, according to the Labor Department.
Shifting demographics and a 6 1/2-year economic recovery are fueling the industry’s growth. American consumers have paid down debts since the Great Recession. Job openings are more plentiful, wages are starting to rise a little faster and cheaper gasoline is putting more cash into consumers’ pockets.
Average spending on food services rose to a new high of nearly $1,900 a person last year, surpassing the previous peak during the housing bubble in 2006 and far above the $1,650 a person in 2009.
The industry’s success may bode well for the U.S. economy. In times past, when economists’ crystal balls got murky and it was hard to tell whether the U.S. was sliding toward recession, restaurants were the one indicator with an uncanny record of accuracy.