Workforce Development

Growing Better Jobs: Improving Job Quality in the Restaurant Industry

March 12, 2012  • Maureen Conway

Bars and restaurants added 41,000 jobs in February, accounting for 18% of the better-than-expected February jobs numbers. Unfortunately the restaurant sector, like many growing sectors in the American economy, is characterized by a high proportion of low-wage jobs. For many hard working food servers and preparers, unpredictable schedules, lack of health insurance, no paid sick time, and few if any employment benefits are endemic.

These challenges and more were discussed on Wednesday, March 7th at a lunchtime panel, From Fast Food to Fine Dining: A Discussion on Work in the Restaurant Industry. The conversation was the kick-off to a new Economic Opportunities Program discussion series titled, “Reinventing Low-Wage Work:  Ideas That Work for Employees, Employers and the Economy,” and featured remarks by Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Helen Neuborne, senior program officer at the Ford Foundation, as well as an panel including Saru Jayaraman, executive director of Restaurant Opportunities Center United, John Schmitt, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Andy Shallal, restaurateur and owner of Busboys and Poets. The discussion was moderated by Peter Edelman, professor of law at Georgetown University.

The discussion highlighted not only the challenges of work in the restaurant industry, but also ideas for consumers, businesses, policymakers and workforce development leaders about how they can contribute to making work better, while still supporting a vibrant and growing restaurant sector.

Watch the video: