Employment data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest near-term strength for Quick Service and Fast Casual trends. Full-service employment growth suggests a possible stabilization in hiring trends. Our view is that casual dining trends decelerated in October versus September. Knapp Track Casual Dining sales data track BLS employment growth data for the full-service and leisure and hospitality industries. Within casual dining, we are bearish on DRI, BLMN, TXRH, and BWLD.
Employment by Age
Employment growth among 20-24 YOA cohort, which has been highlighted by many QSR and fast casual management teams as an important source of demand, decelerated to 1.4% year-over-year in October from 3% in September. Employment growth among 55-64 year olds accelerated, sequentially, in October to 5.4% from 3.6% in September. If this acceleration were to continue, it would be a positive signal for casual dining sales.
The Leisure & Hospitality employment data, which leads the narrower food service data by one month, suggests that employment growth in the food service industry may have tracked sideways-to-down in September. On a sequential basis, the Leisure & Hospitality employment data registered a month-over-month gain of 11k (second chart below). As the first chart of this post illustrates, the trend of employment growth within the Leisure & Hospitality seems to be stabilizing at roughly 2%.
Leisure & Hospitality: Employment growth at +2.54% in October, down 2 bps versus September
Limited Service: Employment growth at 2.7% in September, up 56 bps versus August
Full Service: Employment growth at 4.4% in September, up 22 bps versus August