2006 seen as a good year for N.H. restaurant industry

Sales growth in New Hampshire’s restaurant industry is expected to exceed that of the other New England states this year, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2006 Restaurant Industry Forecast.

Projected sales of $1.96 billion mean a 5.4 percent increase over 2005 numbers — higher than Rhode Island’s projected increase of 5.3 percent and Massachusetts’ expected 4.6 percent hike. The forecast projects a 4.8 percent increase for Maine and Connecticut and a 4.3 percent increase for Vermont.

For each additional $1 million spent in eating and drinking establishments in New Hampshire, 33 jobs are added according to NRA statistics.

The statistics are part of a nationwide 15-year growth trend in the restaurant industry, according to the organization.

The forecast also projects a workforce increase of more than 9,000 jobs in New Hampshire’s restaurant industry within the next 10 years, bringing restaurant and food-service employment in the state to 67,500. The current employment of 58,300 at the 3,303 eating and drinking establishments in New represents 9.2 percent of the state’s total employment. — TRACIE STONE

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