Cooks and Chefs Jobs Reach All-Time High in the US, While Food & Beverage Serving Jobs Lag Below Pre-pandemic Levels

Recruitment DC Global Talent Caribbean and Americas

The United States food industry has experienced significant fluctuations in employment since the onset of the pandemic. While cooks and chefs are witnessing a surge in job opportunities and wages, the food and beverage serving sector is struggling to recover to pre-pandemic levels. In this blog post, we will delve into the latest statistics specific to the US, highlight the uneven recovery across different professional groups and regions within the country, and shed light on the wage trends within the US food industry.

Key Takeaways:

  • Employment in the US Food Preparation and Serving category is down 7% compared to pre-pandemic levels, with uneven recovery among professional groups.
  • Slowest recovering US metros include San Francisco, CA (down 18%), Detroit, MI (down 17%), and Portland, OR (down 17%), while Phoenix, AZ (up 3%) and Jacksonville, FL (up 1%) have shown growth in employment.
  • The number of cooks and chefs employed in the US has reached an all-time high, showcasing positive job prospects for these professions.
  • While wages for US chefs and head cooks surpassed $60,000 for the first time, real pay increases have been negative for the past two consecutive years.
  • Cooks in the US have experienced substantial pay increases in the post-pandemic years, with a reversal of the previous pay gap trend between chefs and cooks.
  • US food and beverage serving jobs are significantly below pre-pandemic levels, with waiters, waitresses, and bartenders experiencing the biggest pay increases compared to 2019.
  • US dishwashers and fast food/counter workers also face employment challenges, although wage growth has been observed in these categories.

Uneven Recovery in the US Food Industry:

Despite the addition of 1.3 million food preparation and service jobs between 2021 and 2022 in the US, the sector is still down 7% compared to 2019. Recovery varies among different US regions, with some experiencing growth while others are substantially down. Phoenix, AZ, and Jacksonville, FL, have shown positive employment levels in the US, while San Francisco, CA, Detroit, MI, and Portland, OR, continue to struggle.

Rise in Cooks and Chefs Employment in the US:

The number of chefs and head cooks employed in the US reached an all-time high in 2022, demonstrating promising job prospects in these roles. Cooks in the US, in general, have also witnessed a surge in employment, with a significant increase from pre-pandemic levels.

Challenges in US Food and Beverage Serving Jobs:

The US food and beverage serving sector still faces significant challenges, with employment down 16% compared to 2019. Waiters, waitresses, and bartenders in the US have experienced the largest pay increases, yet employment numbers remain lower than pre-pandemic levels. US dishwashers and fast food/counter workers also face employment shortages.

Wage Trends in the US Food Industry:

Wages for US chefs and head cooks have seen modest increases, failing to keep up with inflation rates in recent years. On the other hand, wages for US cooks have risen at a substantially faster rate, reversing a long-standing trend of a growing pay gap between chefs and cooks. The US food and beverage preparation and serving category has witnessed the largest wage gains among occupations with significant employment.

The US food industry’s employment landscape presents an intricate picture, with cooks and chefs enjoying a surge in job opportunities, while the food and beverage serving sector faces challenges in recovering to pre-pandemic levels. Wage trends show varying patterns among different professional groups in the US. DC Global Talent as a recruitment agency, we recognize the evolving dynamics within the US food industry and strive to connect job seekers with promising opportunities while assisting businesses in finding the right talent to meet their needs.