Job growers: Retail and food services

Moderated by Rick Badie

Looks like we will eat and shop our way out of the Great Recession. Partially, at least. The retail and food services industries led the nation’s job growth in April with 29,000 and 38,000 jobs, respectively, reports the U.S. Department of Labor. Atlantans love to dine. Here, fashion rules. Today’s guest columnists offer a regional perspective on the report.

Resilient restaurants a testament to the people

By Karen Bremer

Americans and Georgians alike may have recently been surprised by the employment figures released in early May by the U.S. Department of Labor. However, these numbers came as no shock to restaurateurs. In April, the job growth of the restaurant industry rose nationally by 38,000 people.

For all of 2012, the number of restaurant jobs in Georgia grew by 11,800. These numbers demonstrate the resilience and strength of the restaurant industry in job creation.

Our sector continues to grow as the average American dines out five times a week. The dining dollars represent almost 48 cents of every food dollar spent in Atlanta as well as across the state of Georgia, which has held that market share even through uncertain economic times. The restaurant industry is one of the few industries that has recovered all of the jobs lost during the Great Recession, as well as created 105,000 additional jobs nationally over pre-recession jobs. This growth is made possible because our industry is truly an industry of opportunity.

The restaurant industry also gives you the freedom of what you want, when you want it. When dining out, you have the option to choose what you eat, where you eat and how you eat it. One of the many positive aspects is that the restaurant industry gives guests the option to help support local farmers and programs such as Kids LiveWell, an initiative in which restaurants provide healthy meals for children.

With so many choices in the food service industry comes the reliance of the help of many hands. Nearly half of all adults have worked in the restaurant industry at some point during their lives, and more than one out of three adults got their first job experience in a restaurant. Eighty-one percent of restaurant employees said that the restaurant industry is a place where people of all backgrounds can open their own business. Restaurants also employ more minority managers than any other industry.

Another reason our industry continues to grow is a testament to the people. Food service providers possess optimism, joy and pride in serving others. In Georgia, 75 percent of all restaurants are considered small businesses. While some restaurants might be considered a franchise of a major restaurant brand, the owner and operator is still someone who is invested in his or her community.

Restaurant owners and operators have the courage to take risks and create businesses that produce jobs while spreading success to others. A great skill that restaurateurs also possess is that they can easily adapt to a rapidly changing industry. Restaurants are forced to respond quickly to the changing wants and needs of their employees and customers, which is made possible by the hands-on approach of restaurant operators. So as we continue to watch our restaurant industry grow, dine out, dine often, dine Georgia.

Karen Bremer is executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

Retail strong; more growth expected

By Rick McAllister

As we approach the middle of the year, we are happy to report that Georgia’s retail industry is strong and expanding. The state continues to add jobs at a healthy rate and, in fact, posted the third-highest gain in payrolls in the United States recently, with 13,600 jobs added in March.

That’s good news for retailers. It means consumers are beginning to loosen up their pocketbooks and spend more. Because consumer spending accounts for well over two-thirds of our gross domestic product, our overall economic growth depends on a good outlook for consumer spending.

Because of our city’s position as a logistics hub and corporate headquarters location, Atlanta benefits from the growth in national and international economies as well. From the Georgia Retail Association office at AmericasMart Atlanta downtown, you can literally see the retail industry’s energy. Attendance continues to grow at the 2013 AmericasMart Atlanta shows. Retailers from every U.S. state and more than 90 countries buy consumer goods in large volume, according to representatives from AmericasMart Atlanta, host of the nation’s largest gift and home furnishings markets.

Auto sales and housing are two of the biggest drivers of retail’s comeback. An increase in job security means families are much more willing to make big-ticket purchases. The continuing decline in unemployment is certainly partly responsible for the comeback of Georgia shoppers. Home values are also increasing as excess housing inventory declines. When home values recover, families not only have more to spend, they are more willing to spend.

The impact of the housing market also ripples throughout retail. When people move, they will usually take the opportunity to upgrade their appliances, televisions, furniture, linens and everything else you need to furnish a home. That trend leads to an increase in customer traffic for virtually every major retailer, including home improvement retailers and electronics, furniture, department and discount stores.

We think the increase in consumer spending will continue and possibly accelerate as we continue through the year. In June and July, most families start to look ahead to the new school year, so back-to-school shopping will bring a lot of people out to the stores. By that time, we expect most consumers will have fully absorbed and adjusted to the expiration of the payroll tax cut this year, which reduced household budgets somewhat.

Unsteady gas prices have had an impact on household budgets this year, which can cut into discretionary income. However, the long-term trend in gas prices has been down. It appears that continuing increases in domestic energy production will keep prices under control for the foreseeable future.

The retail supply chain depends heavily on Atlanta and the Port of Savannah as a logistics hub, so the growth in the retail industry nationally has a very big local impact on our region. As we look forward to the rest of the year, I’m happy to report that the forecast is for growth.

Rick McAllister is president of the Georgia Retail Association.

8 comments Add your comment

Bernie

May 16th, 2013
11:39 am

corrections:

RickInGrayson @10:03 am – I did not misunderstand your comment or
point at ALL!

Yes, there will be some employers who will make those adjustments. My Point, YOU failed to grasp and understand. States those same businesses will reverse that often misleading statement, if increased profit making ability, is within their grasp up and above the cost of OBAMACARE.

To make a PROFIT is the Goal of any Business. The real solution to this issue is to find a way to increase your business profits, cut waste, improve productivity and increase SALES.

Find ways to have a healthier work force. Like discourage excessive use of Alcohol and Smoking Addictions. Implement excercise programs for weight loss, encourage better eating habits. ALL revelant issues that are having a direct negative financial impact on every Business Nationwide without the implmentation of OBAMACARE.

Look around your place of employment. Count the number of OBESE co-workers around you and think of THEIR OBESED family members who are also on that Businesses Health Plan. Inquire or check out how many are SMOKERS? How many drink excessively? Obesity,Smoking And Alcohol related illnesses is one of the largest drivers of increased Healthcare cost of any Business. Surely, you will find at least 20% or more of your co-workers who fit into this category.

This is where, you will find the real and true COST of your increased healthcare Cost, not OBAMACARE! A unhealthy and Obese work force
will increase any Businesses healthcare cost as much as (40%) Forty percent, along with one or more employees or insured family members having a Major serious healthcare cost event. Heart Attack, Open Heart Surgery, Cancer from Smoking or Alcohol related illness.

There are TON of options any Business can do to help decrease their healthcare costs and loss days of Labor due to preventable illnesses.

Increasing Business profits 20%-30% will go a long way to help offset this additional healthcare expense as well as increasing The Businesses Bottom LINE.

Tell me, what Business would refuse increased PROFITS?

No Doubt, there will be Businesses who will throw their Hands UP and say Lets Cut! I will say to you that OBAMACARE ,will not be the primary or sole reason for such a consideration and decision. There will certainly be other unknown factors that a business would not be willing to share openly with you or anyone else.

That will be the easier reason and exccuse given to avoid Employee Anger with the Employer. They Will Lie to YOU!

I Hope for your sake, you know that one too!

What I am saying to YOU and what you do understand or are aware of. Those same Businesses who CUT, specifically because or in protest of OBMACARE will still have INCREASED HEALTHCARE COSTS!

An expected increase of 30%-40% without Obamacare!

Even more and Especially, if those employees remaining are unhealthy and OBESE!

Trust me on that one!

Bernie

May 16th, 2013
11:23 am

RickInGrayson @10:03 am – I did not misunderstand your comment or
point at ALL!

Yes, there will be some employers who will make those adjustments. My Point, YOU failed to grasp and understand. States those same businesses will reverse that often misleading statement, if increased profit making ability, is within their grasp up and above the cost of OBAMACARE.

To make a PROFIT is the Goal of any Business. The real solution to this issue is to find a way to increase your business profits, cut waste, improve productivity and increase SALES.

Find ways to have a healthier work force. Like discourage excessive use of Alcohol and Smoking Addictions. Implement excercise programs for weight loss, encourage better eating habits. ALL revelant issues that are having a direct negative financial impact on every Business Nationwide without the implentation of OBAMACARE.

Look around your place of employment. Count the number of OBESE co-workers around you and think of ther OBESED family members who are also on that Businesses Health Plan. Inquire or check out how many are SMOKERS? How many drink excessively? Obesity,Smoking And Alcohol related illnesses is one of the largest drivers of increased Healthcare cost of any Business. Surely, you will find at least 20% or more of your co-workers who fit into this category.

This is where you will find the real and true COST of your increased healthcare Cost, not OBAMACARE. A unhealthy and Obese work force
will increase any Businesses healthcare cost as much as (40%) Forty percent, along with one or more employees or insured family members have a Major serious healthcare cost event.

There are TON of options any Business can do to help decrease their healthcare costs and loss days of Labor due to preventable illnesses.

Increasing Business profits 20%-30% will go a long way to help offset this additional healthcare expense as well as increasing The Businesses Bottom LINE.

Tell me, what Business would refuse increased PROFITS?

No Doubt there will be Businesses who will throw their Hands UP and say Lets Cut! I will say to you that OBAMACARE ,will not be the primary or sole reason for such a consideration and decision. There will certainly be other unknown factors that a business would not be willing to share openly with you or anyone else. That will be the easier reason given to avoid Employee Anger with the Employer. They Will Lie to YOU!

I Hope for your sake, you know that one too!

What I am saying to YOU and what you do understand or are aware of. Those same Businesses who CUT, specifically because or in protest f OBMACARE will still have INCREASED HEALTHCARE COSTS!

Especially, if those employees remaining are unhealthy and OBESE!

Trust me on that one!

RickInGrayson

May 16th, 2013
10:03 am

Bernie: These companies are not REDUCING their workforce, they are reducing their number of full time employees (below 50) and increasing the number of part time employees (less than 30 hours/week) to avoid some of the penalties from OBAMACARE.

Bernie

May 15th, 2013
1:16 pm

RickInGrayson @ 4:17 pm – There is No Business in America that would reduce their workforce when ample profits are before them for the making.
Not even for the cost of OBAMACARE!

If there are more Profits to be gained over the cost of taxes for Obamacare. Those Businesses will pay the taxes and hire as many people need be to capitalize on those potential profits.

You maybe right about some businesses considerations, but that is not a True and accurate reflection of ALL Businesses.

MrLiberty

May 15th, 2013
8:44 am

While all jobs are great for those who have them, service and retail jobs will not lay a solid foundation for a real recovery. With all of the Federal Reserve artificial stimulus of the economy, it is of little surprise that these sectors at the tail end of the economy would be booming. Unfortunately it will take manufacturing jobs and real investment to fix the economy for the long term. Once this artificial stimulus is withdrawn (and it must be withdrawn eventually), this boom will go bust as did the housing, dotcom, etc. booms of the past. If the stimulus is not stopped, the resulting hyperinflation will destroy all of this growth and more as retail and restaurant purchases will end up at the bottom of people’s need lists. Our economy has been micromanipulated by Keynesians since at least 1913. Their policies have destroyed our economy, caused massive malinvestment and enormous wealth transfer from the productive to the banksters and the government. Until the malivestment and all the bad debt is liquidated, we have not seen the bottom, and the reinflation of these bubble most certainly will insure that the fall/crash will be so much worse than it would have been if we had just faced the music in the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, and 2007 when the various Fed-created collapses happened. If we had followed the advice of the Austrians we would not be in these circumstances. Hopefully the other side of this current Depression will be better, but we must renounce the Keynesian philosophy of debt and inflation and there doesn’t appear to be any real courage to do that.

Deep Cover

May 14th, 2013
11:06 pm

So minimum wage jobs with NO BENEFITS are fueling the metro ATL economy? GREAT!!!! That is EXACTLY what a homeowner or anyone looking to improve the quality of life in the area is looking for.

Bernie

May 14th, 2013
6:06 pm

So as we continue to watch our restaurant industry grow, dine out, dine often, dine Georgia. – Karen Bremer

A little tip for you to share with your many members….We are Customers and not CATTLE to be herded in a Pen, at your members Front Doors! WAITING!

Tell your members there is a SERIOUS need to improve Customer Service and faster Seating or get out of the Business!

Your Many Regular Customers Patience is starting to wear very thin on these key elements of Good Customer sevice 101.

45 minutes to an Hour is too long to wait for a Table!

Poor Dining Service along with COLD and Tasteless Food is totally unacceptable for paying customers. You get my Drift?

RickInGrayson

May 14th, 2013
4:17 pm

Some of these “food” companies are having record profits, yet they do not pass any of those profits down to their labor force. These companies pay MINIMUM WAGE (or close to it…sometimes below it [they get TIPS don't they])! These companies are limiting worker hours to less than 30 hours a week so they avoid some of the “taxes” that OBAMACARE will be forcing on all business.