The National Restaurant Association has launched its "America Works Here" campaign that will help educate opinion leaders, policymakers, and their staff members about the breadth, depth, scope and influence of the restaurant industry on the American economy.
   
Each installment of the campaign will focus on a specific theme -- a different chapter in the industry’s story -- such as career opportunities, the diversity of managers and restaurant owners, and the billions of dollars that restaurants provide in charitable contributions each year.
 
With the new Congress’ intense focus on job creation, the first ad in the campaign highlights the 13 million jobs and the $1.5 trillion the industry provides to the economy.
 
In his latest commentary, the NRA’s chief economist Bruce Grindy discusses the latest data on jobs and unemployment. Restaurant job growth was robust, while the national unemployment rate dipped, he said.

Restaurants continued to add jobs in December, according to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Eating and drinking establishments gained 24,500 jobs in December, the fifth straight month of job creation. In 2010, restaurants added more than 188,000 jobs although they lost 294,000 jobs in the previous 24 months.

The data also shows the national unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent in December from 9.8 percent in November. That marked the largest single-month drop in more than 12 years. Grindy said the decrease was a result of dramatic swings in the data used to calculate the jobless rate.

According to the BLS household survey, the number of unemployed people fell by 556,000 in December. It also showed that 260,000 people dropped out of the U.S. labor force in December. That's contrary to what should happen in an economic recovery: the labor force should grow rather than decrease.

“While some labor market improvement likely was real, certain factors probably contribute to the large data swing. For example, BLS incorporated new seasonal factors into the data, and unemployment insurance benefits ended the week of the December survey. Overall, the December figures likely will be a blip, and the data will return to more expected levels in the months ahead,” Grindy said.

“For now, it's more important to pay attention to 103,000 job increases based on the BLS employer survey. That's roughly in line with previous months, and it continues to signal a slow and steady recovery. However, job growth is expected to pick up in 2011 as the positive effects of the recent fiscal package kick in.”

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