The National Restaurant Association's Chief Economist Bruce Grindy breaks down the latest employment trends: 

"The restaurant industry continues to be a driving force behind the nation's recovery from the Great Recession, as industry job growth outstripped the overall economy for the 15th consecutive year in 2014. Eating and drinking places, the primary component of the restaurant industry accounting for three-fourths of the total restaurant and foodservice workforce, added jobs at a solid 3.5 percent rate in 2014, well above the 1.9 percent gain in total U.S. employment. 

"The 2014 gain marked the third consecutive year in which eating and drinking place job growth topped 3 percent, the first such occurrence since the 1993 to 1995 period. By outpacing the overall economy in each of the last 15 years, the eating and drinking place sector saw its employment level jump by more than 34 percent. In contrast, the total number of jobs in the economy rose by just 8 percent during the last 15 years. 

"Job growth within the restaurant industry was broad-based in 2014, with several of the major segments registering strong gains.  Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars – including coffee, donut and ice cream shops – set the pace with a robust 5.9 percent employment gain.  Quickservice restaurants (3.8 percent) and tableservice restaurants (2.7 percent) also added jobs at rates well above the overall economy in 2014. 

"Looking forward, the NRA expects eating and drinking places to add jobs at a 3.4 percent rate in 2015, which will represent the first time since the mid-1980s that the restaurant industry posted four consecutive years with employment gains of at least 3 percent. The projected 2015 increase will also represent the fifth consecutive calendar year in which restaurants added more than 300,000 jobs.

"The national labor market is also expected to continue strengthening, with the NRA projecting total U.S. employment to rise 2.3 percent in 2015. This job growth would represent the economy's strongest annual employment gain since 1999."