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61% of Texas restaurant workers out of a job, industry group estimates

About 85% of restaurant owners and operators in Texas said they've had to lay off or furlough their employees since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Almost 700,000 jobs in the restaurant industry have been lost in Texas due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an industry group. 

Of the 1.1 million employees who worked at "Texas' eating and drinking places" in February, 61% will have either been furloughed or fired by the end of April, the Texas Restaurant Association estimates.

That's about 688,000 people.  

Across Texas, more than 1.5 million people have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic began to shutter businesses, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday. 

RELATED: Gov. Abbott says Texas is past 'our all-time high' of new coronavirus cases

About 85% of restaurant owners and operators in Texas said they've had to lay off or furlough their employees, and many expect another round of that within the next month, the group estimates.

Around $4.2 billion in sales will have been lost across the industry in Texas by the end of April, around a 70% decline in sales. 

“Texas restaurant owners and employees are in a desperate situation. We’re looking at the potential extinction of the Texas restaurant ecology," said Emily Williams Knight, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Restaurant Association. 

She said the group originally estimated 500,000 restaurant jobs lost. 

"As we sit here today, without knowing when dining rooms will be allowed to open again, it means the end result will be much, much worse," Williams Knight said in a written statement. 

RELATED: What resources are available to Texans who are suddenly out of work?

Around 250,000 people worked in the restaurant industry in Dallas County alone before those losses began, according to the Texas Restaurant Association.

Across the country, more than 8 million people in the restaurant industry have lost their jobs, the National Restaurant Association estimates, which is about 2 out of every 3 jobs in the business. 

The industry as a whole lost around $30 billion in revenue in March and is expected to lose another $50 billion by the end of April.

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