Grand Rapids ranks 22nd among cities that have recovered the most leisure, hospitality jobs

A new study found Grand Rapids is among the top 25 U.S. cities whose leisure and hospitality job markets have bounced back the most after COVID-19.

A study published last week by MoneyGeek, U.S. Cities Most Impacted by Leisure and Hospitality Job Loss and Recovery, found Grand Rapids ranks 22nd out of 338 metro areas studied in terms of jobs lost and recovered in the leisure and hospitality industry following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has impacted every sector of the economy, but the leisure and hospitality (L&H) industry has been hit particularly hard,” MoneyGeek’s Danielle Kiser wrote in the study’s introduction. “This sector encompasses arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodations and food service — all industries significantly disrupted by COVID restrictions. Despite data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) pointing to an overall resurgence in leisure and hospitality, many cities are still struggling to recover these jobs.”

MoneyGeek analyzed recent data to determine the cities impacted most by leisure and hospitality job losses, as well as the cities that have recovered the most jobs.

Key findings

  • Between February 2020 and April 2020, almost half of the sector’s jobs disappeared, according to the BLS.
  • 1 million leisure and hospitality jobs are still missing compared to February 2020’s jobs levels of 16.9 million.
  • Despite still missing millions of jobs, the leisure and hospitality industry has gained back 75% of its jobs since its April 2020 low of 8.6 million.
  • Recovery isn’t uniform. For instance, while Atlantic City, New Jersey, recovered 94% of lost leisure and hospitality jobs as of June 2021, Orlando, Florida, still was missing 30% of its hospitality positions.

Methodology

To assess the cities that have recovered the most leisure and hospitality jobs, MoneyGeek’s data team analyzed 338 metropolitan statistical areas and calculated the change in hospitality job numbers from February 2020 to June 2021. Comparing from February 2020 allowed researchers to examine each city’s pre-COVID-19 job numbers. MoneyGeek then normalized the recovered jobs based on the city population and the size of the leisure and hospitality sector by calculating the recovered jobs as a percent of the total employment.

In other words, MoneyGeek identified the cities where recovered leisure and hospitality jobs had the largest impact.

Top results

By June 2021, Atlantic City, New Jersey — which ranked No. 1 on the list — had recovered 27,800 leisure and hospitality jobs, or 94% of the jobs lost. These 27,800 jobs represented a return of 24% of the total jobs in the area, which indicates the magnitude of the recovered jobs relative to the entire Atlantic City job market.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Gulfport, Mississippi; Buffalo, New York; and Asheville, North Carolina, rounded out the top five cities that have recovered the most L&H jobs.

Coming in at No. 22, Grand Rapids recovered 23,700 of the L&H jobs lost, or 86.5%, which represented 4.1% of the total number of jobs lost in the area.

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