CHICAGO — More than 68% of restaurants in the United States are now permitted to resume on-premises services, according to the NPD Group.

Major restaurant chain customer transactions have continued improving as more dining rooms reopen. Transactions were down 18% year-over-year in the week ended May 31, up 3% from the previous week, according to data from NPD. 

Transactions at major full-service chains were down 37% year-over-year, a 15% improvement from the prior week. Quick-service restaurant chain transactions declined 16%, compared to an 18% decline in the week ended May 24.

Recovery has been slower in states and regions where restaurants remain closed for in-store dining. New York and California saw a 34% and 27% decline in restaurant transactions during the last week of May, respectively, NPD said. Transactions in Kentucky, which lifted its ban on in-store dining May 11, declined 2%.

“The United States foodservice industry today remains solidly in the re-start phase as restaurants begin to reopen their on-premises operations,” said David Portalatin, food industry adviser at The NPD Group. “The industry will move to the recovery phase when all states reopen on-premise dining and we can begin to make a detailed assessment of how many permanent restaurant closures there are and how that will affect what the industry will look like as it reemerges.”

The restaurant industry also rehired approximately 1.37 million workers in May, according to federal employment data released June 5. The industry employed more than 7.5 million workers throughout the month, up 22% from April’s historic low of 6.3 million but down 37% from February.

“While there is still a very long road to recovery for the restaurant industry, (the) jobs report is encouraging for the nearly 8 million industry employees laid off during the shutdown,” said Tom Bené, chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association. “As the economy begins to recover, restaurants are reopening and employees are being rehired. The 1.4 million restaurant jobs added in May is nearly three times more job gains than the next closest industry.”