Restaurant Employment Rises 21.9% in May; Trump Will Sign PPP Flexibility Act

The May jobs report beat everyone’s expectations at 8:30am EDT this morning. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) national unemployment rate for May was 13.3%, nearly one third better than analysts’ estimate of 19.1%. Average weekly hours also beat estimates at 34.7 versus the 34.4 estimate. As of the time of writing, the Dow has rallied a staggering 3.7% since BLS released its report three hours ago.

Employment in restaurants increased a stunning 21.93% in May versus April. These food service and drinking places added 1,370,600 jobs in May, paying an average current wage of $13.36 per hour. Restaurants are thereby responsible for over half of May’s total 2,509,000 U.S. jobs gains.

“They thought the number would be a loss of 9 million jobs, but the gain was actually 3 million jobs, it’s incredible,” remarked President Trump this morning at his 10:30am EDT press conference. “We were very strong. That strength has let us get through this horrible pandemic.” 

“The job surge that we’re seeing right now is widespread.” The President remains optimistic about continued recovery, “We’ll go back to having the greatest economy in the world. No one will be even close.” He highlighted the performance of the stock market, “The greatest 50 day rally in the history of exchanges.”

Unfortunately, African American unemployment increased slightly to 16.8% and was the only ethnic group whose unemployment increased during May. Current black unemployment is at its highest since 1984. This data point only further confirms the grievances of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests that continue rolling across the country. Similar to all populations due to the coronavirus, black unemployment remains almost three times higher than last year.

One of the more disturbing statements from President Trump pertained to the riots in Minneapolis, which looted and destroyed many restaurants. “They were ripping it apart… it’s called dominate the streets,” said President Trump of the work that the National Guard performed in Minneapolis, the epicenter of protests that began after the disturbing death of George Floyd. “They were absolutely ripping it apart, and within one night, everything was over.”

“Renewal restoration and recovery of the most vulnerable areas of the country is going to be my focus,” pledged President Trump, highlighting Senator Tim Scott’s Opportunity Zones. “We have a lot of protesters,” said Trump. “And we have something else, we have a pandemic.” The President also mentioned that he would send funds to inner-city Opportunity Zones as well as historically black and latin schools.

Additional good news for restaurant owners arrived this week. Yesterday, the Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act. The Act is now on President Trump’s desk where he is expected to sign it into law shortly.

Indeed, Trump said during his news conference this morning that he plans to sign the bill into law. “I am going to sign important legislation to help the PPP,” he said this morning. “You know what bill I’m talking about. It’s going to extend the forgiveness to 24 weeks, as you know.” Restaurant industry lobbyists immediately celebrated in the press conference crowd.

The bill gives small business owners, particularly restaurants, flexibility to make the most of their PPP loans. Congressman David Rouzer provides a one-page flyer outlining the benefits of the Flexibility Act for restaurants as a PDF here.

Photo by Tim Cooper on Unsplash

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