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The hospitality trade is shedding jobs for the primary time since April as new employment restrictions hit employment

A waiter in a mask stands outside Da Gennaro restaurant in Little Italy in New York City on November 15, 2020.

Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images

The hospitality industry lost jobs for the first time since April as new restrictions to combat the coronavirus pandemic weighed on sales at restaurants and pubs.

The spike in new Covid-19 cases in November weighed on overall employment growth, which slowed to its lowest level since May. Unemployment fell from 6.9% to 6.7%, according to the monthly report from the Ministry of Labor. Grocery and drinking establishments lost 17,400 jobs in November, and the industry's unemployment rate is 13.8%.

But the increase in infections is hitting the catering sector particularly hard. That fall, states and communities across the country began another round of restrictions on bars and restaurants after reopening indoor eateries and expanding capacity during the summer months.

Reduced capacity or rotating completely for takeout and delivery means less manpower is needed in the kitchen or serving food.

For example, in Los Angeles County, restaurants are closed to all personal dining, whether indoors or outdoors. The state said Thursday it could reintroduce stay-at-home orders if hospital capacity is restricted. Delaware imposed new restrictions on restaurants in mid-November but issued a stay at home order Thursday as cases continued to increase.

Nationwide, the 7-day average of the daily new Covid cases has risen to over 179,400 according to data from Johns Hopkins University – the highest to date. Grim records were set this week for the number of patients in hospitals and the number of people who have died of Covid in the United States.

And while some consumers may have been willing to dine in restaurants when the number of Covid cases was lower, the recent spike, combined with cold weather, appears to have affected customer traffic. Black Box Intelligence, which collects restaurant data, found that industry traffic decreased 16.3% in the same store in November. Sales in the same store were down 10.3%, the biggest drop since August.

The new spike in cases continues to come after the end of summer in the fast food sector, although unemployment data is seasonally adjusted. McDonald & # 39; s said it would hire 260,000 people this summer when it reopened its dining rooms.

Industry experts expect a new wave of restaurant closures and bankruptcies this winter that will further reduce the number of restaurant jobs available. However, talks resumed on Capitol Hill over another stimulus package, which could bring relief to both restaurants and their unemployed workers. Earlier this week, President-elect Joe Biden said restaurants should receive grants rather than loans to aid their recovery from the crisis, in line with an opinion voiced by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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