States with the most food service industry workers

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June 23, 2020
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States with the most food service industry workers

Working in a restaurant is a rite of passage for many Americans. Fast food joints, chain restaurants, and local eateries offer entry-level jobs perfect for high school graduates or other first-time workers. Plus, the customer service experience gained working as a waiter or host can prove useful in almost any other job.

Sure, it seems like nearly everyone you know has a story about their summer working at a local diner or drive-thru. But how common is that experience, really? Stacker compiled state-by-state statistics from the National Restaurant Association to find out; the data on the number of jobs is from 2019 and all other supplementary data is from 2018. All 50 states and the District of Columbia were ranked by the number of food service jobs per 100,000 people. For context, the national average was 4,809 per 100,000 people in 2019. It's important to note that these numbers, including projections, were determined prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read on to find out which states offer the most restaurant and food service jobs, make the most in estimated restaurant sales, and how many offerings you can find at each locale.  

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    #51. Colorado

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 3,228.14
    --- Total food service jobs: 185,900
    --- Food service locations: 12,031
    --- Estimated sales: $13.9 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 11.9% (#9 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 33,900

    Chipotle, Qdoba, Smashburger, Noodles & Company, Red Robin, and several other nationally known restaurant chains started in Colorado. By 2029, it is projected that there will be 319,800 restaurant and food service jobs in the state. 

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    #50. New Jersey

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 3,921.33
    --- Total food service jobs: 348,300
    --- Food service locations: 19,050
    --- Estimated sales: $18.1 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 6.9% (#43 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 24,100

    In a state with a long-time love for sub sandwiches, it's no wonder that nationally known companies like Blimpie and Jersey Mike's were founded in New Jersey. There will be an estimated 374,400 jobs in the industry by 2029

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    #49. Arkansas

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,012.85
    --- Total food service jobs: 121,100
    --- Food service locations: 5,288
    --- Estimated sales: $4.9 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 9.1% (#26 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 11,000

    Arkansas doesn't have the booming food industry as other states with just 5,288 food service locations statewide in 2018. Nevertheless, a few local companies like Shake's Frozen Custard have found success operating in the state.  

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    #48. West Virginia

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,045.43
    --- Total food service jobs: 72,500
    --- Food service locations: 3,291
    --- Estimated sales: $2.8 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 7.3% (#39 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 5,300

    West Virginia has its fair share of local chains, like the colorfully named Tudor's Biscuit World and Gino's Pizza and Spaghetti. In 2019, restaurant and food service jobs made up about 10% of employment in West Virginia.

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    Anna C. Brandão Alves // Flickr

    #47. Utah

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,051.83
    --- Total food service jobs: 129,900
    --- Food service locations: 5,264
    --- Estimated sales: $5.5 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 13% (#8 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 16,900

    Utah-based chains like Hogi Yogi, Crown Burgers, and Arctic Circle Restaurants employ lots of locals, but the Beehive State doesn't offer many food service jobs overall. By 2029, Utah is expected to have 146,800 food service jobs. 

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    #46. Idaho

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,062.53
    --- Total food service jobs: 72,600
    --- Food service locations: 3,385
    --- Estimated sales: $2.9 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 11.8% (#10 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 8,600

    Idaho, which employs fewer food industry workers per 100,000 people than the national average, is known for potatoes, but that's not all the state's restaurants cook up for hungry patrons. Canadian-born chain Pita Pit houses its U.S. headquarters in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

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    #45. Alabama

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,070.82
    --- Total food service jobs: 199,600
    --- Food service locations: 8,620
    --- Estimated sales: $9 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 10.8% (#15 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 21,600

    Known for its savory barbecue, fried chicken, and other Southern delicacies, Alabama offered almost 200,000 jobs in the food service industry in 2019, 10% of the state's employment. Local companies like Dreamland Bar-B-Que and Foosackly's make up some of those jobs.  

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    #44. Mississippi

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,095.90
    --- Total food service jobs: 121,900
    --- Food service locations: 4,881
    --- Estimated sales: $5.1 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 10.2% (#19 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 12,400

    When visiting Mississippi, some of the state's most popular bites—Mississippi mud pie, barbecue, biscuits, fried chicken, and crawfish—are must-have meals. In 2029, the state is projected to offer 134,300 total jobs in the restaurant industry

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    #43. Arizona

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,267.24
    --- Total food service jobs: 310,600
    --- Food service locations: 10,281
    --- Estimated sales: $14.7 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 15.1% (#2 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 46,900

    Beloved national chains like Cold Stone Creamery and P.F. Chang's are based in Arizona, but the state still doesn't have a huge food service industry. In 2019, 11% of Arizona's employment was within the restaurant industry. 

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    #42. Maryland

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,284.05
    --- Total food service jobs: 259,000
    --- Food service locations: 11,357
    --- Estimated sales: $13.3 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 8.1% (#31 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 21,100

    While Maryland-based restaurants like Jerry's Subs & Pizza, Ledo Pizza, and Stuckey's employ a fair amount of locals, the number of food service industry jobs in the Free State is still well below the national average.

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    #41. Alaska

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,346.96
    --- Total food service jobs: 31,800
    --- Food service locations: 1,485
    --- Estimated sales: $1.8 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 5% (#51 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 1,600

    Depending on where you live in Alaska, the nearest city or town might be plenty of miles away, so it makes sense that there isn't exactly a bustling restaurant scene. The Last Frontier's restaurant industry is only expected to grow about 5% from 2019 to 2029, the smallest level of growth in the entire country. 

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    #40. Washington

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,379.58
    --- Total food service jobs: 333,500
    --- Food service locations: 15,690
    --- Estimated sales: $13.5 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 11% (#12 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 36,600

    Starbucks, one of the largest food service employers in the country, was founded in Seattle. The state nevertheless doesn't employ a ton of people in the restaurant industry; it is still below the national average of 4,809 per 100,000 people. 

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    #39. Virginia

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,435.58
    --- Total food service jobs: 378,600
    --- Food service locations: 15,507
    --- Estimated sales: $18.1 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 10% (#21 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 38,000

    Globally known burger joint Five Guys is headquartered in Virginia, but the state itself doesn't offer a ton of jobs in the industry. With just over 4,435 jobs per 100,000 people, only 9% of employment in the entire state is attributed to the restaurant and food service industry. 

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    #38. New York

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,450.60
    --- Total food service jobs: 865,800
    --- Food service locations: 50,153
    --- Estimated sales: $51.6 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 5.6% (#50 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 48,700

    In addition to all the varied bars and restaurants in New York City, the Empire State is also the birthplace of national chains like Benihana, Sbarro, and T.G.I. Friday's. Despite the large restaurant presence in the state, it still surprisingly falls near the bottom of the largest food service employers in the country.  

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    #37. Michigan

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,477.89
    --- Total food service jobs: 447,200
    --- Food service locations: 16,543
    --- Estimated sales: $17.9 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 7.1% (#40 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 31,900

    Home-grown Michigan companies like Big Boy Restaurants, Domino's, Biggby Coffee, and Little Caesars have made an outsized impact on the national restaurant scene. In Michigan itself, however, the food service industry employs fewer people per 100,000 than the national average.

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    #36. Connecticut

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,490.52
    --- Total food service jobs: 160,100
    --- Food service locations: 8,297
    --- Estimated sales: $8.2 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 6.4% (#46 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 10,200

    Connecticut was where the first Subway sandwich shop was founded in 1965. However, only 9% of employment in the state is through jobs within the restaurant and food service industry. 

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    Yuri Long // Wikimedia Commons

    #35. Pennsylvania

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,530.55
    --- Total food service jobs: 580,000
    --- Food service locations: 26,548
    --- Estimated sales: $24 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 5.9% (#49 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 34,400

    The restaurant industry is an important force in Pennsylvania, the state known for popularizing hard and soft pretzels, Philly cheesesteaks, banana splits, potato chips, and apple butter. Though Pennsylvania did come in slightly below the national average on food service jobs, it also tallied an estimated $24 billion in restaurant sales in 2018, up from $21.5 billion in 2017.

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    #34. Kentucky

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,543.75
    --- Total food service jobs: 203,000
    --- Food service locations: 7,654
    --- Estimated sales: $8.5 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 10.9% (#13 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 22,200

    Dippin' Dots was founded in Kentucky and Papa John's is based in Louisville—and you can't forget about Colonel Sanders' concoction of tasty fried chicken. By 2029, the state is expected to have 225,200 restaurant and food service jobs.

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    #33. South Carolina

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,548.71
    --- Total food service jobs: 234,200
    --- Food service locations: 9,669
    --- Estimated sales: $10.7 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 13.4% (#6 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 31,300

    The Palmetto State has an abundance of tasty offerings, particularly in its stews, gumbos, and boiled peanuts. South Carolina had fewer than 8,977 restaurants in 2016—by 2018 there were 692 more eating and drinking places throughout the state. 

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    #32. Louisiana

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,590.44
    --- Total food service jobs: 213,400
    --- Food service locations: 9,533
    --- Estimated sales: $10.3 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 7% (#42 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 15,000

    The Bayou is known for having one of the most diverse offerings of food in the country. Any visitor to New Orleans will be smitten by a smorgasbord of food, from beignets to gator. Louisiana is also the home of Popeyes.

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    #31. North Carolina

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,594.74
    --- Total food service jobs: 481,900
    --- Food service locations: 19,504
    --- Estimated sales: $21.4 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 13.3% (#7 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 64,100

    Home to cult favorites like Cook Out, Hardee's, and Bojangles' Famous Chicken and Biscuits, North Carolina has a sound restaurant industry. From 2019 to 2029, the state is expected to add 13.3% more jobs to the food service industry.

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    John Phelan // Wikimedia Commons

    #30. New Mexico

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,597.42
    --- Total food service jobs: 96,400
    --- Food service locations: 3,468
    --- Estimated sales: $4 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 8% (#32 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 7,700

    One of New Mexico's most popular chains was born once Blake Chanslor returned from World War II and opened Blake's Lotaburger. The products of this chain even made a cameo on “Breaking Bad.“

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    #29. Georgia

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,599.99
    --- Total food service jobs: 488,400
    --- Food service locations: 18,403
    --- Estimated sales: $22.9 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 14% (#5 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 68,300

    Well-known Southern chains like Zaxby's, Waffle House, Huddle House and Chick-fil-A all started out in Georgia. Employment in the industry by 2029 is expected to surpass half a million. 

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    #28. Indiana

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,625.52
    --- Total food service jobs: 311,400
    --- Food service locations: 12,196
    --- Estimated sales: $12.8 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 10.3% (#17 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 32,200

    Steak ‘n Shake is headquartered in Indiana, a state that's known to mix its culinary offerings with a mix of farm-bred, all-natural taste, and hefty servings of Americana. Restaurant and food service jobs are projected to reach 343,600 by 2029. 

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    #27. California

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,631.48
    --- Total food service jobs: 1,830,000
    --- Food service locations: 76,201
    --- Estimated sales: $97 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 9% (#28 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 164,300

    McDonald's, In-N-Out Burger, Taco Bell, Denny's, Peet's Coffee, California Pizza Kitchen, the Cheesecake Factory—the list of restaurants founded in California goes on and on. But surprisingly, one of the most densely populated states and a bastion of food creation comes in below the national average on food service industry jobs.

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    Bex Walton // Flickr

    #26. Texas

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,635.83
    --- Total food service jobs: 1,344,200
    --- Food service locations: 48,064
    --- Estimated sales: $66 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 15.2% (#1 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 204,100

    Known for Tex-Mex, barbecue, and soul food, Texas offers plenty of ways to grub at local restaurants like Torchy's Tacos, Cotton Patch Cafe, and Golden Bird. The Lone Star State made a whopping $54.1 billion in restaurant sales in 2017. The very next year it made the same—plus $11.9 billion more. 

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    Mike Mozart // Flickr

    #25. Illinois

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,645.74
    --- Total food service jobs: 588,700
    --- Food service locations: 25,488
    --- Estimated sales: $30.1 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 7% (#41 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 41,400

    In 1940, the very first Dairy Queen store opened in Joliet, a suburb outside of Chicago. Though not created in Illinois, McDonald's is headquartered in Chicago. 

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    #24. Oklahoma

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,667.71
    --- Total food service jobs: 184,700
    --- Food service locations: 7,067
    --- Estimated sales: $7.6 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 7.4% (#38 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 13,700

    The home of beloved restaurant chains like Sonic Drive-In and Braum's, Oklahoma offers plenty of food industry jobs, although you'd be hard-pressed to find the Sooner State's official meal on menus at those establishments—a mix of fried okra, cornbread, squash, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, black-eyed peas, and other deliciousness.

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    #23. Delaware

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,734.21
    --- Total food service jobs: 46,100
    --- Food service locations: 1,983
    --- Estimated sales: $2.2 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 8.9% (#29 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 4,100

    The Delaware food scene is all about local dishes like blue claw crabs, fries doused in vinegar, peaches, and slippery dumplings. According to 2019 data via SafeGraph, Delaware is the only state that has more McDonald's locations than Subways

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    #22. Vermont

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,743.67
    --- Total food service jobs: 29,600
    --- Food service locations: 1,413
    --- Estimated sales: $1.1 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 6.8% (#44 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 2,000

    The food scene in this New England state is all about comfort classics like chicken pot pie, apple pie with aged Vermont cheddar, gravy fries, cider donuts. Now a global brand, Ben & Jerry's ice cream was founded in Burlington.  

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    #21. Maine

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,753.71
    --- Total food service jobs: 63,900
    --- Food service locations: 3,227
    --- Estimated sales: $2.5 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 6.7% (#45 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 4,300

    Portland, Maine, has recently made a name for itself as a hub for up-and-coming bars and restaurants, which gives you some insight into how successful the food service industry is statewide. But few things beat grabbing a scoop from Gifford's, which has been serving ice cream since the 19th century.

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    #20. Kansas

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,798.66
    --- Total food service jobs: 139,800
    --- Food service locations: 5,328
    --- Estimated sales: $5.2 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 9.5% (#23 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 13,300

    The love that Kansas people have for their local barbecue spots is nothing short of passion. It's only natural, then, that the state also has a prosperous restaurant industry. Those with a taste for sliders will be intrigued to know that the first White Castle opened in Wichita in the 1920s.

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    #19. Tennessee

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,832.21
    --- Total food service jobs: 330,000
    --- Food service locations: 11,693
    --- Estimated sales: $14.2 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 10.9% (#14 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 36,000

    Looking at a list of the most popular Tennessee restaurants like Corky's BBQ, Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken, and Jack Pirtle's Chicken, it's easy to get a sense of what is popular here. Hint: Those on a diet may want to veer elsewhere.

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    #18. Iowa

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,833.49
    --- Total food service jobs: 152,500
    --- Food service locations: 6,285
    --- Estimated sales: $4.7 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 10.2% (#18 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 15,600

    One of the Midwest's most cheerful-sounding restaurant chains—Happy Joe's Pizza and Ice Cream—began in East Davenport, in 1972. Happy Joe's is best known for its Taco Joe pizza topped with refried beans, sausage, seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, chips, and taco sauce, of course.

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    #17. Wisconsin

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,887.99
    --- Total food service jobs: 284,600
    --- Food service locations: 12,796
    --- Estimated sales: $10.1 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 10.5% (#16 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 29,800

    This state is about more than cheese. Local restaurant chains like Cousins Subs, Kopp's Frozen Custard, and White Tower Hamburgers have helped make quite the impact on Wisconsin's economy with an estimated $10.1 billion in sales in 2018, up from $8.6 billion in sales in 2017.

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    #16. Minnesota

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,892.16
    --- Total food service jobs: 275,900
    --- Food service locations: 10,681
    --- Estimated sales: $10.7 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 8.6% (#30 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 23,700

    Though the first Dairy Queen was founded in Illinois, the national chain known for its Blizzards is now headquartered in Bloomington. The state's capital is known for a wide variety of other tasty culinary offerings, like Pizza Luce, which claims to be Minnesota's best pizza.

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    #15. Missouri

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,892.93
    --- Total food service jobs: 300,300
    --- Food service locations: 11,200
    --- Estimated sales: $11.7 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 9.3% (#25 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 27,800

    As home to Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis has a claim to being America's beer capital. But the state also has plenty of local delicacies that pair great with a cold one, namely barbecue. The Gateway to the West also houses the headquarters for Panera.

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    #14. Wyoming

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 4,958.89
    --- Total food service jobs: 28,700
    --- Food service locations: 1,338
    --- Estimated sales: $1.1 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 9.4% (#24 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 2,700

    Sparsely populated Wyoming has just 1,338 food service places, but it still managed to do a tidy $1.1 billion in restaurant sales in 2018. One of its most famous haunts is Taco John's, which first got its start in Cheyenne in 1968.

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    #13. Ohio

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 5,004.66
    --- Total food service jobs: 585,000
    --- Food service locations: 22,547
    --- Estimated sales: $24.2 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 9.1% (#27 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 53,400

    Ohio can claim to be the birthplace of a fair amount of well-known restaurants and fast food chains, including Skyline Chili, Wendy's, and Buffalo Wild Wings. From 2019 to 2029, the industry is expected to add an additional 29,800 more jobs

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    #12. Oregon

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 5,007.42
    --- Total food service jobs: 211,200
    --- Food service locations: 10,456
    --- Estimated sales: $9.7 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 11.6% (#11 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 24,500

    Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Papa Murphy's, the Old Spaghetti Factory, and a few other nationally known brands got their start in Oregon, a state that has proven itself friendly to the restaurant industry. Food service and restaurant jobs make up 11% of Oregon's employment. 

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    #11. Nebraska

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 5,009.28
    --- Total food service jobs: 96,900
    --- Food service locations: 4,113
    --- Estimated sales: $3.3 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 7.5% (#37 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 7,300

    Despite Nebraska's small population, it still offers a higher number of jobs at restaurants and other food service locations. And while this Midwest locale is known for its corn, Nebraska also has a claim to being the godfather of pizza, as the eponymously named chain is headquartered in Omaha.

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    #10. Massachusetts

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 5,067.83
    --- Total food service jobs: 349,300
    --- Food service locations: 15,797
    --- Estimated sales: $18.7 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 7.7% (#35 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 26,800

    Many well-known national brands like Dunkin' Donuts, Friendly's, Boston Market, and Papa Gino's got their start in the Bay State. To help restaurants adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association created a site for customers to find restaurants offering delivery, takeout, and curbside pickup—free for restaurants to join. 

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    #9. Florida

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 5,102.96
    --- Total food service jobs: 1,096,000
    --- Food service locations: 41,366
    --- Estimated sales: $50.1 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 14.1% (#4 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 154,700

    If you love the wings—or the famously friendly waitstaff—you have Florida to thank for Hooters. This popular national chain began in Clearwater in 1983 while Burger King's predecessor was founded in Jacksonville three decades earlier.

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    #8. New Hampshire

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 5,111.38
    --- Total food service jobs: 69,500
    --- Food service locations: 3,178
    --- Estimated sales: $3 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 10.1% (#20 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 7,000

    The number of food service jobs per 100,000 people in New Hampshire is well above the national average of 4,809 per 100,000 people. Local favorite Moe's Italian Sandwiches is based out of Portsmouth, but has locations in Maine and Massachusetts, as well. 

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    #7. North Dakota

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 5,209.55
    --- Total food service jobs: 39,700
    --- Food service locations: 1,736
    --- Estimated sales: $1.4 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 7.8% (#34 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 3,100

    Though small in terms of population, food service industry jobs make up a decent share of North Dakota's classifieds. From 2019 to 2029, it is projected there will be 3,100 additional jobs added to the industry

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    #6. Montana

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 5,351.91
    --- Total food service jobs: 57,200
    --- Food service locations: 2,831
    --- Estimated sales: $2.3 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 7.9% (#33 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 4,500

    The food scene in Big Sky Country might not be as thrilling as some of its other neighbors in the West, but it's still known for local foods like chokecherries, bison, morels, Rocky Mountain oysters, and huckleberries. Jobs in the restaurant industry make up 12% of the state's total employment. 

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    #5. Rhode Island

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 5,437.24
    --- Total food service jobs: 57,600
    --- Food service locations: 2,926
    --- Estimated sales: $2.7 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 7.6% (#36 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 4,400

    Known for local favorites like coffee milk, doughboys, clams casino, and hot wieners, Rhode Island's food scene draws in residents and tourists alike. The share of restaurant jobs in the state is also flying high with more food service industry jobs per 100,000 people than the national average of 4,809. In the summer, lines can get crazy for a Del's Frozen Lemonade.

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    #4. South Dakota

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 5,448.43
    --- Total food service jobs: 48,200
    --- Food service locations: 1,878
    --- Estimated sales: $1.5 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 9.8% (#22 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 4,700

    By 2029, there is expected to be a total of 52,900 total jobs in the food service and restaurant industry. In 2019 the industry made up 11% of total employment in South Dakota. 

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    #3. Hawaii

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 6,985.09
    --- Total food service jobs: 98,900
    --- Food service locations: 3,665
    --- Estimated sales: $5.6 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 6% (#48 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 5,900

    It's only natural that Hawaii's booming tourism industry, which sets records for visitor spending, also affords the state a large number of restaurant and food service jobs, accounting for 15% of all employment. By 2029, the state is projected to have 104,800 jobs total in the industry. 

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    #2. Nevada

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 7,116.52
    --- Total food service jobs: 219,200
    --- Food service locations: 5,980
    --- Estimated sales: $9.9 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 15% (#3 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 32,900

    Like Hawaii, Nevada also depends heavily on tourism. This is especially true in southern Nevada near Las Vegas, the ever-popular destination for conferences, family vacations, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and more.

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    #1. Washington D.C.

    - Food service jobs per 100k people: 9,238.41
    --- Total food service jobs: 65,200
    --- Food service locations: 2,457
    --- Estimated sales: $4.4 billion
    - Projected 10-year growth: 6.1% (#47 in the country)
    ---Projected additional jobs: 4,000

    The winner of the #1 spot on this list isn't a state at all, but a city. The District of Columbia has become a prime spot for new chains catering to more health-conscious customers. The nation's capital also has the highest number of food service jobs per 100,000 people, 4,429 more than the national average. 

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