The leisure and hospitality industry has suffered more than one-third of all job losses in the U.S. as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (and the U.S.’ response to it), according to a new report prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by Tourism Economics. Pre-pandemic, the industry accounted for 11 percent of the total employment.
Nearly half of the 16.9 million jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry were lost in March and April. Since then, almost 4 million jobs have been created or restored; this, however, still results in over one-quarter of workers being unemployed—double the next hardest-hit industry (mining). Further, leisure and hospitality hiring has slowed from 2 million new jobs in June to just 600,000 new jobs in July.
“With over one-quarter of leisure and hospitality jobs lost since the onset of the pandemic and the rate of job expansion beginning to abate, the recovery for the industry is expected to extend well into 2023,” the report said. Increasing travel activity is a necessity to facilitate a recovery as the subsectors of accommodation; arts, entertainment, recreation; and food and beverage are highly dependent on visitor spending. They will require a restoration of prior travel levels in order to contribute to a full labor market recovery.
The recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic saw the unemployment rate rise from 3.5 percent in February to 14.7 percent in April. Since that April peak, the unemployment rate has gradually declined to 10.2 percent in July; however, if every industry recovered to their pre-pandemic levels except for leisure and hospitality, the unemployment rate would only fall from 10.2 percent to 6.2 percent.
“If the primary point of aid from Washington is to help U.S. employers and working Americans, then by every objective measure the American travel and tourism industry ought to be right at the top of the priority list,” said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement. “Substantial portions of the travel sector missed out on earlier rounds of relief, and if the next deal doesn’t get done, the acute pain being felt by travel workers is going to extend through and well after the election.
“We are pleading with congressional and administration leaders to return to the negotiating table and pass the relief enhancements that are going to help protect millions of jobs in each and every state and congressional district in every corner of the country.”
The U.S. Travel Association has called for a series of legislative priorities that should be included in the next relief deal. It includes enhancement and expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program, increased and better testing, tax credits and more.
Source: U.S. Travel Association