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What's the coronavirus risk to St. Louis’ restaurant and brewery workers? Start at $4.5M a day.

Bars and breweries in the region together employ over 5,200 people, who in total support nearly $142.5 million in annual payroll, or nearly $400,000 in daily wages
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — The coronavirus pandemic has squeezed the country's restaurant and bar industry, but calls to more aggressively combat COVID-19's spread could further decimate St. Louis' restaurant and bar industry — with $4.53 million in daily wages at stake.

Last week, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard called for a "National Pandemic Adjustment Period" that would effectively shutter nonessential business activity through June 30, well into one of the busiest seasons for the restaurant and hospitality sectors. Bullard said the move would require a national stimulus aimed at keeping "everybody whole" during the shutdown period. He predicted up to a 30% reduction in U.S. jobs as the crisis unfolds.

Restaurateurs in St. Louis have already begun making hard decisions by closing and furloughing or laying off employees after regional government officials directed all bars and restaurants to end dine-in service and operate on a takeout- and delivery-only basis.

St. Louis-area restaurants employ around 98,000 people, and supported roughly $1.5 billion in annual payroll, according to 2018 federal data. That worked out to just over $15,413.13 per year, per worker, or about $4.1 million in wages each day.

Bars and breweries in the region together employ over 5,200 people, who in total support nearly $142.5 million in annual payroll, or nearly $400,000 in daily wages. On average, bars paid employees $16,534.51 a year and breweries $54,256.45.

Notably, the federal wage count does not take into consideration the thousands of dollars in undisclosed tips that also supplement wages.

Federal data show roughly 9.6 million U.S. workers were employed by full- and limited-service restaurants at the beginning of 2018. Those employees collectively earned about $168.7 billion in wages that year, or roughly $17,500 per worker. 

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