The restaurant industry last year in New York City was a multi-billion sector of the economy, generating more than 300,000 jobs and doing $27 billion in taxable sales. 

It's a much different picture in the plague year of 2020, however, as the industry has been battered by the coronavirus and economic shutdown to halt its spread. 

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Thursday released a report detailing the economic impact of the restaurant world in New York City, where the unemployment rate in August was above the statewide average of 12%. 

“New York City’s bars and restaurants are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. 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,” DiNapoli said.

“Restaurants reflect our diversity, employing tens of thousands of immigrants and providing a range of options fitting for a world-class metropolis. 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.”

Restaurants last year in New York City provided 317,800 jobs while also paying out more than $10 billion in wages. The industry accounted for 1 in 12 private sector jobs in New York City in 2019.  

Many restaurant workers are immigrants, with more than 60% in the sector coming from other countries, compared to less than half in other citywide jobs. 

But things changed in April: Employment at resraurants dropped to 91,000 jobs when shutdown restrictions were put in place. Sales fell by 71% at New York City restaurants in March, April and May during a comparable time a year earlier.