In 2012, employment in the restaurant industry grew 3.4 percent, the largest increase in 17 years, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

These figures represent the 13th consecutive year in which the industry has outpaced the overall economy, with restaurant jobs growing at twice the rate of the economy in 2012.

Eating and drinking establishments are the third-largest private sector job creator, as the number of restaurant positions in the U.S. grew 25 percent in the past 13 years, while total U.S. employment rose by only 4 percent, stated NRA’s chief economist Bruce Grindy.

The organization believes the positive trend will continue through 2013, with jobs predicted to grow at a rate of 2.7 percent.

Grindy noted that while the restaurant business was hit hard by the recession, but unlike most other industries, it recovered pretty quickly.

Sectors that saw especially good numbers include snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars, like coffee shops, foodservice contractors, fast-food businesses and full-service restaurants.

Meanwhile, industries like transportation and warehousing, which could potentially be affected by foodservice employment, saw a decrease in jobs in January, according to the Department of Labor Statistics.

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