Despite Hiring Challenges, Michigan’s Restaurant Industry Poised for Growth


Michigan’s restaurant industry is projected to post overall sales growth of nearly 5 percent this year and reach $15.4 billion in sales, says the National Restaurant Association in the group’s annual forecast.

“The restaurant industry continues to be an undeniable catalyst for job-growth in Michigan, fueling the state’s economic recovery and providing many their first opportunity in the workforce,” says Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant Association.

When compared nationwide, Michigan’s growth is average among the states, with Florida’s restaurant industry predicted to see the largest sales growth at 7.4 percent, while North Dakota’s restaurant industry is expected to see a 2.8 percent increase in sales growth in 2016, the lowest percentage when compared nationwide.

The report says the number of Michigan residents employed in restaurants is expected to exceed 421,000 in 2016, accounting for more than 11 percent of all employment in the state, a 1 percent increase compared to 2015. Over the next 10 years, the number of state residents employed by restaurants will grow by more than 43,000, an increase of more than 10 percent.

The report predicts 2016 will mark the seventh consecutive year of national restaurant industry sales growth, and is also expected to mark the 17th straight year in which restaurant industry employment growth will outpace overall employment growth.

“While restaurateurs will face some real challenges in 2016, most notably a scarcity of qualified labor and thin profit margins, there are many reasons to be excited about the future of the industry in Michigan,” Winslow says. “From a booming restaurant scene in the city of Detroit and its many new intriguing chef-driven concepts, to maturing restaurant communities in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Birmingham, and more, there is a national focus on Michigan right now as a culinary destination.”

Winslow says trends and challenges the industry could see in 2016 are a shallow labor pool as recruitment and retention of employees re-emerges as a top challenge for restaurant operators; a growing number of minority- and women-owned restaurants; and growing technology pains, with two in five consumers saying technology makes restaurant visits and ordering more complicated.

For more information on the 2016 Restaurant Industry Forecast, click here.