PITTSBURGH, PA – There is abundant anecdotal evidence that the coronavirus outbreak has hit bars and restaurants in the Pittsburgh area and their employees hard. However, a new study from the University of Pittsburgh quantifies the staggering number of industrial jobs that have been lost as a result of the local pandemic.
The Pitt Center for Social & Urban Research found that more than 31,000 bar and restaurant employees lost their jobs between October 2019 and October 2020. The industry has grown from 88,000 to 57,000, a decrease of 35 percent.
The Pitt study included employment trends from 4,226 restaurants and other eateries in southwestern Pennsylvania, which researchers defined as Counties Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland. The study also looked at more than 600 establishments that were classified as drinking places and 445 as special catering services. This category includes caterers, food trucks and related mobile catering services.
Full-service restaurant workers with seating were hardest hit during the study period, with employment falling 54 percent. That’s a devastating number, but not nearly as bad as the employment level in April, when full-service restaurant employment fell by more than 80 percent.
Fast-food restaurants and those that only offer take-away saw the smallest decrease with a decrease of 11 percent between October 2019 and October 2020.
With multiple coronavirus vaccines on the horizon, will many restaurants return to their pre-pandemic staff? Pitt researchers have provided no forecast, but data that is likely to be of concern for laid-off workers.
While the industry level has risen since the low in April, the most recent increases in employment occurred between April and June. The employment rate in restaurants has remained relatively constant since June and is well below the level before the start of the pandemic.
You can find the full report here.
This article originally appeared on the Pittsburgh Patch