As we glided from one decade to another, the economy continued its exceptional run, adding another 145,000 jobs in December to cap 2019 at over 2,100,000 new jobs created! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the leisure and hospitality industry added 40,000 of those jobs for an annual industry total of 388,000!  As the labor market continues to tighten, we noted that Taco Bell announced it will be testing giving six-figure salaries to its managers across the Midwest and the Northeast. DDIFO Restaurant Analyst John Gordon of Pacific Management Consulting Group wrote recently of the $100,000 Taco Bell experiment and pointed out that it was being done on the company store side – where the financial differences are significant. Gordon explained that it is typical that AUV and restaurant margins are higher at the company stores than franchisee stores in terms of profit dollars. Further, that company stores do not have the burden of a royalty and franchisor interest expense is lower or practically zero for these stores, unlike franchisees. He concluded that the $100,000 tactic might bring some incremental staffing relief to the company store side but will generally be unworkable on the franchisee side and that labor relief will have to come from anywhere other than labor rates.