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America's bars and restaurants are hiring like crazy

America’s bars and restaurants are hiring like crazy

If you’re in need of some extra cash, there’s a good chance you could get a couple shifts as a bartender or waiter somewhere nearby.

US eating and drinking establishments hired a robust 34,000 people during August, according to just-released numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Except for one month, March 2015, the US restaurants and bars have added jobs for 78 straight months. The longest streak on record.

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In part, bars and restaurants are hiring because the US economy is in better shape. Average earnings rose 2.4 percent in August compared to the year before, well ahead of the cost of living, as measured by the US consumer price index. (That was only up 0.8 percent in July, the most recent month we know about.)

So part of the reason that restaurants and bars are doing better is because people are a bit better off than they were last year. And all else equal, that makes them more likely to spend a bit on a few beers or a nice dinner out.

But that’s not the whole story though. More broadly, American eating habits are changing. People are cooking less.

For instance, over the last couple of years, retail sales at bars and restaurants have overtaken sales at grocery stores, suggesting that on the margins, Americans are doing a bit less cooking.

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Whatever the reason, there are restaurant jobs to be had. Which is good.

One caveat: you’re not going to get rich doing them. The median annual pay for waiters and waitresses in 2015 was $19,250. (That includes tips.) That’s almost 90 percent lower than the median annual wage for the country as a whole, which was $36,200 in 2015.

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