(ConservativePeak.com)- Nearly 50% of the restaurants and bars in New York City may close for good over the next six months.
That’s according to an audit released Thursday by Thomas DiNapoli, the state comptroller. Between one-third and half of all the restaurants and bars are in danger of closing for good, the audit said, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused major financial pain for the industry.
If that many businesses were to close, it would eliminate more than 150,000 jobs in the process.
“The industry is challenging under the best of circumstances, and many eateries operate on tight margins. Now they face an unprecedented upheaval that may cause many establishments to close forever.”
Restaurants and bars were forced to close their doors to patrons in the spring when the coronavirus pandemic first began. They were limited to only offering takeout food for a while. Eventually, the city allowed outdoor dining.
Indoor dining has been banned for much of the pandemic. Just this week, restaurants and bars were allowed to welcome patrons indoors for dining, although they could only fill their places up to 25% of normal capacity.
DiNapoli’s audit found that almost three-quarters of workers in New York City’s restaurant industry were without a job at the peak of the pandemic. Overall employment in the industry hovered around 91,000 total jobs at that time. In 2019, the industry employed 317,800 workers, paying out $10.7 billion in wages and amassing more than $27 billion in taxable sales.
The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly difficult for the city’s minority workers. In 2018, nearly 60% of all restaurant workers who lived in New York City were immigrants. Of that total, 20% were Asian and 44% were Hispanic.
The city has been trying to help the restaurant industry during the difficult time. The city approved a year-round outdoor dining program that includes initiatives to expedite and expand applications.
By the first week of last month, 43% of all bars and restaurants in the city received permits for outdoor seating, DiNapoli said. That helped boost employment in the industry to 174,000 jobs by August.
As DiNapoli said:
“It’s important that the state and city continue to be creative and bolster the industry. The city’s decision to extend outdoor dining year-round to help keep restaurants afloat is a step in the right direction along with opening for indoor dining.”
What DiNapoli’s report does is send a “critical message” that the restaurant and bar industry in New York City is at the epicenter of the region’s economy as a whole, industry leaders have said.
According to the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, Andrew Rigie, policy makers in the state must do everything they can to support businesses in the industry. He said:
“While we are appreciative of the government actions taken so far to support our restaurant community and the hundreds of thousands of people it employs, many more policies must be enacted by all levels of government to help save these small businesses and our economy.”