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Restaurants Go on Diet After Years of Fattening Up U.S. Job Gains

  • Fast-food chains that drove expansion of locations now slowing
  • Competition, labor costs, automation challenge hiring
A worker passes a bag of food to a customer at the drive-thru window at a McDonald's fast food restaurant in White House, Tennessee, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. McDonald's shares fell as much as 2 percent to $119.82 on Monday after the results were posted.
Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

U.S. restaurants have been on a hiring binge in recent years, far outpacing the rest of the economy. But their appetite for more employees looks to be waning.

McDonald’s Corp. and Subway Restaurants, two of the largest fast-food chains in North America, have cut back on new-store openings and closed some locations. Supermarkets including Kroger Co. are pushing prepared foods, while meal kits are making it cheaper and easier for people to eat at home. Wendy’s Co. and McDonald’s plan to install hundreds of digital ordering kiosks by year-end to boost sales as labor costs rise.