The restaurant industry is one of the strongest in all of America's economy, and new reports indicate its influence has had positive effects in multiple ways in recent months.
High levels of job growth
According to Fast Casual, more than six years after the recession damaged the economy, private-sector jobs have finally climbed to a total above the original pre-recession peak. The economy now has a 110,000-job lead on the previous highs in January 2008.
Specifically, the restaurant industry has represented much of that growth. The news source reported that the restaurant industry added 30,000 jobs in March. That completes a four-year streak of monthly employment gains, also comprising the strongest monthly increase overall since October.
As such, outlooks for continued job growth are high. In March, about 22 percent of restaurant operators said they wanted to employ more people in the next six months, which is the highest such report since September 2013. Another 65 percent of restaurant owners and operators expected their staffing levels to remain steady.
Drop in obesity may be linked
Another prominent cause of the restaurant industry is to drive younger diners to eat healthier, and its efforts have helped the general population get closer to that goal, QSR Web reported. Obesity rates have plummeted 43 percent in recent years for two- to-five-year-olds.
A driver of that healthiness has likely come from restaurants' efforts. Children's nutrition has been commonly listed near the top of the National Restaurant Association's "What's Hot" survey since 2011, and brands everywhere are committing to this trend. Kids' menus are growing healthier, helping to drive eating choices with less fat and fewer calories.
One specific factor of note is the NRA's Kids LiveWell program, the news source noted. Launched in 2011, the program had 19 chains initially working to provide parents and children with healthier food and beverage options when dining out. Over time the initiative expanded to reach a total of more than 145 participating restaurants. With that many chains around the nation helping kids eat more balanced meals with fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains, there's no doubt that the restaurant industry is helping kids stay healthy.
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