Despite a stagnant overall U.S. jobs environment, the restaurant industry is poised to turn in its strongest year of job growth since 2004, according to the National Restaurant Association. This growth is led by the quick-service segment. As reported earlier this week by Bloomberg, foodservices accounted for nearly 30 percent of the 96,000 jobs created in August.

Labor Department data shows that the restaurant industry has more than doubled its payrolls this year, compared to total U.S. employment.

The Bloomberg U.S. Quick Service Restaurant Index, which is made up of nine companies including Wendy's and Jack in the Box Inc., has jumped 4.5 percent so far this year, compared with a 15 percent gain for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

According to Malcolm Knapp, a foodservice consultant, much of that hiring is being directed to customer service initiatives. The recession caused many cuts in labor and chains are looking to restore a focus on service.

From the story:

While the industry faces challenges next year from rising gasoline and food prices, quick-service restaurants for now are profiting from weak job gains and stagnant wages, which are sending people in search of inexpensive meals.

"Overall, the market's relatively flat," NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs said. "There are segments that are doing well. A lot of that growth is coming within the fast casual segment and QSR."

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