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US bar and restaurant jobs surged in June. So did coronavirus cases.

Karen Ho
By Karen Ho

Global finance and economics reporter

US bars and restaurants put out their welcome mats in June as many states lifted coronavirus-related restrictions. The number of people working in food services and drinking places jumped by 19% to 9.2 million in June, according to data released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday.

Overall, the number of jobs in leisure and hospitality, which also includes hotels, spectator sports, and amusement parks, rose by 21% to more than 12 million.

This might look like good news for a sector that has been battered by the global coronavirus pandemic, but the latest job data does not reflect what is currently happening in the US. It’s based on a survey conducted between June 7 and June 13, before a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in several US states.

While the number of new cases generally held steady in May, they have since exploded, hitting a record of nearly 53,000 on Wednesday, according to the latest data from The Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer organization hosted by The Atlantic. It recorded more than 606,000 new cases in the US between June 14 and July 1, after the BLS conducted its survey.

The rise in cases has prompted new restrictions across the country. Last week, Texas governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to shut down and restaurants to operate with fewer tables, and on Monday, Arizona closed bars, gyms, water parks, and theaters. Michigan has closed indoor bar service across much of the state in response to a 138-case outbreak at one bar. On Wednesday, California, halted visits to many public places, including indoor restaurants, bars, zoos, and museums for the next three weeks to help slow the spread of the virus. New York City, meanwhile, cancelled its plans to allow indoor dining in restaurants.

This new round of restrictions means many of the new bar and restaurant jobs in the June report might disappear in July.

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