Industry Profile

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Economics in a small business

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our communities. While restaurants may be the largest private sector employer in the state and second in the nation, they have tight margins and are often among the first to feel the impact of shifts in the economy.

Small businesses are the cornerstones in our communities

Washington’s restaurants continually strengthen the state’s economy. Our local and state governments depend on our revenue to support government services. Restaurants are vital to our economic health.

  • Generate $757 million in annual tax revenue
  • Have $10.7 billion in gross annual food and beverage sales
  • Impacts Washington’s economy with over $3.8 billion in wages paid
  • Employ on average 218,000 people Washington


Share of Food Dollar graphicAccording  to NRA’s 2015 Industry Forecast, the share of consumer’s food dollars spent in restaurants has increased 25 percentage points since 1955.

Quick tidbits from this year’s forecast:

Nine in 10 consumers say they enjoy going to restaurants.

Half of consumers say restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyle.

 Seven in 10 consumers say their favorite restaurant foods provide flavors that can’t easily be duplicated at home.

8 out of 10 consumers say going to a restaurant with family and friends is a better use of their leisure time than cooking and cleaning up.

For more information, please go to our ResearchEmploymentOperations or Consumer Trends pages; or to Resources and Reports to download statewide demographics, revenue and wage reports. For questions, comments or sourcing for any of Research pages, please contact Sheryl Jackson,