As another month passes, the great schism inside the American labor force get wider. We are referring to the unprecedented divergence between the total number of high-paying manufacturing jobs, and minimum-wage food service and drinking places jobs, also known as waiters and bartenders. In October, according to the BLS, while the number of people employed by "food services and drinking places" rose by another 10,000, the US workforce lost another 9,000 manufacturing workers.
The chart below puts this in context: since 2014, the US had added 547,000 waiters and bartenders, and has lost 36,000 manufacturing workers.
Yet while we would be the first to congratulate the new American waiter and bartender class, something does not smell quite right. On one hand, there has been a spike in recent restaurant bankruptcies or mass closures (Logan's, Fox and Hound, Bob Evans), which has failed to reflect in the government report.
On the other hand, as the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant performance activity index showed last month, overall industry sentiment is the worst since the financial crisis, due to declines in both same-store sales and customer traffic, suggesting that restaurant workers should now be in the line of fire for mass layoffs.