Driven by the strong economic recovery in the second half of 2020, the service sector has been in a steady, though gradual, recovery. In fact, March was the 10th consecutive month of growth. Over the past six months, the continuing rollout of vaccines has helped to accelerate the reopening of the U.S. economy.
The Department of Commerce’s March Employment Report further quantifies the progress being made within the service sector. Two of the service industries hardest hit by the pandemic were Retail Trade and Leisure & Hospitality.
In February 2020, the Retail Trade industry employed more than 15.6 million Americans. Two months later, in April, that number fell to 13.2 million. However, as of March 2021, the Retail Industry now has 15.2 million workers, down just 400,000 jobs from its pre-pandemic level.
But nothing can compare to the struggles of the Leisure & Hospitality industry, which includes bars, restaurants, hotels, theaters, casinos and sporting venues. In February 2020, the Leisure & Hospitality industry employed more than 16.9 million Americans — a record high at the time. By April, the Leisure & Hospitality industry had lost 8.2 million jobs — almost half its total workforce. Fortunately, the Leisure & Hospitality industry has since recaptured 5.1 million jobs. However, its current labor force of 13.8 million is still 3.1 million jobs shy of a full recovery.