Leisure and hospitality industries in trouble as more workers quit than ever before

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Now that most mask mandates have been lifted and more people are choosing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the demand for the leisure and hospitality industry has increased. People want to see movies with loved ones again, go out to eat at their favorite restaurants and stay at hotels to relax. However, while the industry is seeing an uptick in demand, they’re also seeing a lack of eager employees ready to work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that this past May, 5.3% of workers quit their jobs in the leisure and hospitality industries. This starkly contrasts the pre-pandemic quitting rate for the industry, which was 4.1% in February 2020. The number is a record high for the industry and is much higher than the average quit rate for all industries, which is about 2.5%.

But not only are workers in these industries quitting — it’s hard to even find workers to fill these positions in the first place. Tampa Bay hasn’t been excluded from this problem. In April, 22,700 hospitality and leisure jobs were lost in the Tampa area.

Workers’ reluctance to go back to work in these industries is linked to a few factors. Some are still concerned for their health, especially now that mask mandates are being lifted, while others might be searching for jobs in other industries while receiving supplemental unemployment benefits.

Some leisure and hospitality businesses are attempting to combat this issue by offering incentives and higher pay. According to Axios, on an annualized basis, the pay for these industries has been steadily rising at a 15.1% pace. Here in Tampa Bay, businesses like TradeWinds Resort are offering employees a $500 sign-on bonus after their first four months.

Those first four months are key; businesses are hoping that they can not only hire employees but keep them long-term as well. With about 764,000 leisure and hospitality workers quitting their jobs this past May alone, businesses will have to do more to keep their employees.

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