Employment in the restaurant industry is growing rapidly - so rapidly, in fact, that it’s surpassing that of the entire nation.

A new report from the National Restaurant Association found that employment in the restaurant industry increased by 2.7 percent between June 2011 and June 2012, which is more than double the 1.3 percent increase seen throughout the nation.

Even though the restaurant industry suffered dramatic losses during the recession, as was the the case with most major industries, employment levels are already higher than they were before the recession.

Overall, the restaurant industry added 116,000 jobs during the first half of this year, and has hired more than half a million employees since the economy began to recover in March 2010.

“While restaurant industry job growth is not immune to the ups and downs of the overall economy, our industry has continually been at the forefront of job creation for the last two years,” Dawn Sweeney, NRA president and CEO, said in a press release.

“Restaurant industry sales are gaining for the third consecutive year, spurring the nation’s nearly one million restaurants to staff up to meet the increasing demand for away-from-home meals. This illustrates the strength and resilience of our industry, as well as the wealth of opportunity it offers,” she added.

And things aren’t expected to slow down anytime soon. The NRA is predicting that restaurant industry sales will increase by 3.5 percent this year to $632 billion. That growth in sales will equate to a growth in hiring demand.

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