Almost four in 10 of all the U.S. jobs lost since February of last year are have been in the leisure and hospitality industry, according to the latest Employment Situation Summary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 39 percent of jobs lost is triple the number of the next-hardest-hit industry.

The 49,000 jobs created by the U.S. economy in January were viewed by economists, according to MarketWatch, as a disappointment and a major sign of lingering pandemic-related stress in labor markets. But according to analysis created for the U.S. Travel Association by the research firm Tourism Economics, the “real” underlying story is the 61,000 jobs lost by the leisure and hospitality sector last month. The U.S. would have gained 110,000 jobs overall without the decline in this field. January marked the second month in a row that the leisure and hospitality sector lost jobs despite overall U.S. employment gains.

Other numbers underscore the particularly dire situation of leisure and hospitality compared to the rest of the U.S. jobs economy:

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  • The 23 percent of leisure and hospitality jobs lost since February 2020 is nearly double the industry with the next-worst job loss rate (mining and logging; 12 percent)
  • Leisure and hospitality’s 39 percent share of all U.S. unemployment is three times that of the industry with the second-biggest share (government; 13 percent)
  • The 16 percent current unemployment rate in leisure and hospitality is almost three times the overall U.S. unemployment rate (6 percent)

“The math is pretty easy: the U.S. economy won’t get back on track until the leisure and hospitality sector is back on track, and that’s going to take aggressive policy actions,” said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement. “Safely restarting travel needs to become a national priority, which means not only relief measures but pressing ahead on vaccinations and continuing to emphasize best health practices.”

U.S. Travel has shared with Congress and the Biden Administration its relief priorities and recovery strategies to help accelerate the onset of a travel recovery. Among them: 

  • Extend and enhance the Paycheck Protection Program to provide a third draw for businesses that continue to face difficulties due to COVID-19
  • Provide grants for hard-hit sectors within the travel industry
  • Provide $2.25 billion in U.S. Economic Development Administration grants to promote safe and healthy travel practices
  • Provide $17 billion in additional relief for commercial airports and airport concessionaires

Additional recovery strategies will be needed to shorten the industry’s recovery period and restore American jobs more quickly, said U.S. Travel Association. These include providing tax incentives to support the restoration of travel jobs and helping travel businesses cover the cost of COVID-19 prevention efforts. 

Source: U.S. Travel Association

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