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Holding Steady

Restaurant industry in area not adding or losing jobs

April 15, 2012
By MIKE ZUMMO , The Leader Herald

Over the past several years, the restaurant industry has been slowly putting people back to work nationally.

However, the story is different locally as the number of jobs in the hospitality and leisure industry, which includes restaurants, have remained largely stagnant over the past year.

According to the New York State Department of Labor, there were 1,100 hospitality jobs in Fulton County in February, the same number as the previous February. There were 1,000 leisure jobs in Montgomery County in February, unchanged from the year before. Hamilton County had 300. Again, no change.

Article Photos

Brittney Hayes, a waitress at the Raindancer Steak Parlour in Perth, takes a lunch order from two customers Thursday at the restaurant.

The Leader-Herald/Mike Zummo

"One of the nice things about our area is that we don't get the highs or the real lows," said Walter Porath, owner of the Raindancer Steak Parlour in Perth. "There's the advantage. That's the nice thing about our area, and probably one of the reasons things are the way they are."

According to the Labor Department, the leisure sector of the state's job market added 25,100 jobs from the year before. Most of those gains were in the hotel and restaurant industry.

Porath said he hasn't had a great deal of turnover recently. He said he had an open position about a month ago and got little response.

"We're not getting a lot of people coming in looking for work," he said. "Which is contrary to what people are seeing and hearing with the economy."

Nationally, restaurants have added more than 560,000 jobs since the beginning of the employment recovery two years ago, and most those jobs created have been in the last six months, a news release from the National Restaurant Association said.

According to the release, the restaurant industry makes up 10 percent of the U.S. workforce.

"The restaurant industry strongly contributes to the health of our nation's economy by driving job growth across industry segments, and providing rewarding career and employment opportunities for millions," said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Since the recovery began in March 2010, the industry's staffing levels nationally have risen more than 180,000 over the previous peak.

"Restaurants are the cornerstone of career and entrepreneurship opportunities," Sweeney said.

Porath said business at his restaurant has been "real, real good," and is trying to add employees.

According to the association, 93 percent of restaurants in the U.S. are small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, with the workforce's 16- to 24-year-olds holding 40 percent of the positions. More than half of restaurant workers are younger than 30.

"We don't always look for people that are experienced," Porath said. "We just look for outgoing, friendly people."

Mike Zummo is the business editor. He can be reached at



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