Restaurants and bars are pretty common fixtures. We eat there, we drink there, and we walk and drive by countless establishments every day. They’re a central facet of society; just think how weird would it be to find a town without a single restaurant. The industry is huge, but few of those who are keeping the whole thing running really know just what that means. Here’s a little perspective on what you’re contributing to when you show up for your shift.

Just about everybody knows someone who has worked at a restaurant or bar, and many people have had that experience themselves. According to the National Restaurant Association, one in three American adults had their first ever job in the restaurant industry. The opportunities abound in an industry with about 970,000 establishments that employ around 13 million people. That’s 10 percent of the entire workforce in the United States, making the restaurant and bar industry the second largest employer in the private sector. 

All those hard workers serving up food, drink, and fun have to translate into some big things when it comes to the dollars. The restaurant industry has always been a major part of the American economy. Wining and dining is not only great socially, but a huge boost to the country’s financial growth. In the most recent U.S. Economic Census, the industry generated sales of more than $444 billion in 2007. In 2012 it is estimated that sales will reach $632 billion. Those are some serious 12 digit figures.

The restaurant and bar industry is one of the biggest and most dynamic fields in the United States, and it’s an industry that continues to grow. The employment rate for restaurants and bars is consistently higher than the national average; for 2012 they expect to reach a rate of 2.3 percent growth, topping the national rate of 1.3 percent. Sales for the nearly one million established restaurants and bars continue to rise year after year. It’s a hot industry to get involved in.

So whether you’re cooking it up in the back of house or chatting with the customers up front, you’re part of a booming industry that’s key to our country’s economy and overall well-being. That’s pretty massive.