“People are not informed on how emotionally and financially rewarding the restaurant industry can be,” he says.
According to the National Restaurant Association, nine out of 10 restaurant managers and eight out of 10 restaurant owners started their careers in entry-level positions. How many industries boast similar statistics?
The dynamic Boatwright is referencing reflects changing labor goals among younger people. Teenagers aren’t flocking to work like they once were. College is now considered more of a necessary and natural step than a privileged one. This creates a force of employees with degrees seeking employment beyond entry level from the moment they walk off the stage. And they probably didn’t major in restaurants, although they likely have translatable skills without even realizing it.
The number of restaurant employees between the ages of 16 and 19 years old has ticked up to pre-2007 levels, right before the financial crisis, per CNBC. However, the labor force participation rate of teens has stagnated since 2016. Restaurants have pulled from other industries, like retail, which has been plagued by closures over the past decade. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 1.7 million teens worked in restaurants in 2018—the same number as 2007. You have to also remember that in the past decade, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of restaurants jumped close to 16 percent.
From 2010–2017, restaurants accounted for one out of every seven new jobs, according to The Wall Street Journal.
What this all means is there are a lot of restaurants, a ton of job growth, and yet the same amount of teenage employees in restaurants as 2007.
Another way to look at it: 41.3 percent of teens held a job in 2007. Last year, it was 35.1 percent. The force hasn’t rebounded since the recession and more young people are working on college resumes than trying to line their pockets with spending money.