Restaurants, bars created most jobs But those salaries ranked near bottom of all categories

Average wage is $9,000

1994 Census data points to growth of hospitality industry

November 12, 1996|By Jennifer Langston | Jennifer Langston,U.S. Census Bureau, 1994 XTCCONTRIBUTING WRITER

Restaurants and bars employed more workers and created more jobs than any other private industry in Anne Arundel County in 1994, according to the latest county business patterns report released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

But the average salaries they paid ranked near the bottom of the list. The average annual salary for restaurant employees was $9,000, not including tips for waiters, waitresses and bartenders, according to the report.

Surprisingly, those low wages left economic development analysts and restaurant employees relatively unfazed.

"Obviously we would like to have as many well-paying jobs as possible in the economy, but the fact is that we are a heavily visited area. The hospitality industry is growing, and I would expect that to continue," said Jeanette Wessel, CEO of the Anne Arundel Trade Council.

The highest paid employees, with average annual salaries of $52,000, worked for electric, gas and sanitary services, according to the report. Ticket takers at movie theaters ranked last, averaging just $7,000 a year.

While dishwashers, fast food workers and counter help often make close to minimum wage, many waiters, bartenders

and managers, especially in the tourist mecca of Annapolis, can make more than double that.

Chris Loser, 23, a bartender at ACME Bar & Grill on Main Street, says he makes great money -- about $24,000 a year in tips. But he recalls his days working fast food jobs in high school and college and in the kitchen at the ACME that were pretty miserable.

"That's where you're getting your employment ghetto. You have such high turnover, and they'll just work you to the bone. I was just a cashier and they had me scraping walls and doing things that I should have been paid $8 an hour to do."

Although Loser is comfortable for now, he also wants to move up in the industry. He discounts the argument that waiters and bartenders hit a salary ceiling early in their careers.

"I don't think I'm going to be a bartender my whole life," he said.

Restaurant work also is a haven for students, artists and people getting by until they can do something else. But sometimes it mysteriously turns into a career.

Chris Rolling, 25, a who cooks at the Moon Cafe on Prince George's Street, is a musician. But he also works full-time as a cook, and has worked in the restaurant business since he "was old enough to legally operate a meat slicer."

He says the $8.75 an hour he gets paid is plenty to live on. "If you work in a restaurant, you're not making as much as the president of an engineering firm. But frankly, I think they're the ones that are overpaid," he said.

Anne Greene bakes scones, muffins and quiches at the City Dock Cafe when she's not making commercials or working as an extra in movies. She declined to reveal how much money she made, but wavered when asked whether she thought she could make a good living on restaurant work alone.

"Cooking, yes. A head chef is going to make a lot of money, and that can be a lucrative job. In the kitchen, no," she said.

Roy Dunshee, who left a career as a lawyer to open the ACME Bar & Grill, said coffee shops, counter delis and cafes are among the recent trends in the restaurant industry.

"They're flourishing right now. I think it's great. This is an ever-evolving industry and that's one of the directions it's heading right now."

But their employees clearly do not make as much money as regular waiters and waitresses. Counter employees at All the Right Stuff, a walk-up deli that serves quiche, pizza and salads, start at a flat rate around $5.50 an hour, said manager Dave Smith.

Smith is now going to night school to finish a computer science degree. He says the long hours and high stress have gotten to him.

"Like a lot of people in this business, I'm looking to get out of it."

Top private employers

:0Industry .. .. .. .. .. .. Employees .. Average

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... annual pay

Bars and restaurants .. .. 14,066 . ... $9,000

Health care .. .. .. .. .. 11,514 . ... $31,000

Business services .. .. .. 10,000 . ... $22,000

Instrument Manufacturing . 8,500* . ... Unavailable

Trade contractors .. .. ... 6,337 . ... $27,000

Durable goods wholesalers . 5,837 . ... $38,000

Food stores .. .. .. .. ... 5,837 . ... $17,000

Engineering,

Management services ... ... 5,180 . ... $41,000

Miscellaneous retail .. ... 5,137 . ... $14,000

Airlines, airports . .. ... 4,561 . ... $39,000

*Estimated

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