The most recent jobs report was disappointing. Only 235,000 jobs were created in August 2021, versus an expectation of 720,000. Leisure and hospitality jobs had led the way this year — until August. For the six months before August 2021, those industries had averaged 350,000 new jobs per month. Last month there were no job gains in the sectors. The drop-off in leisure and hospitality resulted in August’s jobs gains being the weakest monthly gain since January 2021.

The weakness was attributed to rising COVID-19 cases. Consumer demand ticked down as the uncertainty regarding new infections went up. U.S. infection cases are up to about 150,000 cases a day. The jobs report saw an increase of about 400,000 people who said they couldn’t work for pandemic-related reasons, bringing the total to 5.6 million. The reluctance of would-be workers confirmed the apprehension of businesses to bring on new employees. Corporations paused hiring as hot, hot, hot economic growth cooled to merely hot.

The Delta variant wave is a caterwauling reminder that the pandemic remains one of the most critical factors driving the economy, if not the single most crucial factor. One other significant factor is that, beginning as early as June 2021, roughly half of U.S. states opted out of taking the federal $300 weekly plus-up for unemployment benefits. Governors of those states argued that businesses were competing against the federal benefits for workers. Those additional federal plus-up benefits were eliminated for every state on Labor Day, September 6, 2021.

The governors hypothesized that by eliminating the additional benefit, people would go back to work. It’s too early to determine if that hypothesis is true or not. However, it is possible that the unintended consequence of denying those people that extra $300 per week resulted in the drop in aggregate demand. It’ll be interesting to look at all the data once enough time has passed in order to measure the fallout correctly. Not that there needs to be computational time; there needs to be enough time to compare periods. However, thus far, economists at JP Morgan and Columbia University have found “zero correlation” between job growth and states’ decisions to opt-out of federal unemployment aid.

We don’t yet honestly know the effect of eliminating those additional $300 weekly payments. If dropping the extra unemployment benefits does fail to pull people back into the workforce, it could create a negative feedback loop. Demand for goods and services will drop, and businesses won’t need to hire as many people. This risk is heightened because, as of September 6, 2021, benefits for self-employed and gig workers (freelancers) were terminated. Also on Labor Day, special consideration was canceled for those unemployed for more than six months. Roughly 8.9 million Americans will lose all or some of these benefits. For comparison, during the Financial Crisis of 2008, jobless benefits of different forms that began in 2008–2009 were extended until 2013. When those benefits ceased, there were 1.3 million people still receiving amped-up aid.

There was some

In just one year, Ohio lost nearly 25% of its servers at restaurants across the state and recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Cleveland nonprofit Ohio Policy Matters show the leisure and hospitality industries aren’t on track to get many of those workers back.

At Stricker’s Grove, a 97-year-old family-run amusement park in Ross, Ohio, staffing on any given day can be a roller coaster.

“This is probably, as far as labor goes, the worst we’ve experienced it,” said Pamela Stricker, the park’s co-owner.

She and other family have been working in various spaces in the park themselves as Stricker’s Grove struggles to keep the full park staffed. There are typically enough workers to run rides for every private event, but staffing the games and golf areas when the park opens to the public four times a year sometimes involves a scramble.

“Sometimes I work at the front gate, sometimes I work at miniature golf,” said Stricker.

The park hopes to build bonds with workers through offers like free drinks all day and creating a welcoming family-like environment. It’s worked for loyal employee Kathy King, a retired Hamilton math teacher who works part time at the park. She and other die-hard employees are the few who returned after the park was shut down in 2020.

“It’s just … my happy place,” said King. “It’s nice to see both kids and adults have a good time and laugh and smile.”

The steady rise in unfilled job openings are charted in statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Mirroring that data, Ohio Policy Matters released a Labor Day report showing the leisure and hospitality industry made up 28% of all the state’s jobs destroyed during the pandemic.

The Strickers haven’t given up hope, however, and they believe what lies ahead will be better. Most of the park’s private-event clients plan to re-book for events next year and owners hope by then staffing will be closer to normal.

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A report from a UW-Madison think tank shows employment in the state’s leisure and hospitality industry remains 18.7 percent lower than before the pandemic.

The annual State of Working Wisconsin report from COWS details the change in job numbers across various industries between February 2020 and June 2021. COWS stands for Center on Wisconsin Strategy.

Wisconsin’s economy overall has 114,000 fewer jobs than in February 2020, the report shows. The greatest job losses were seen in leisure and hospitality, which includes hotels, bars and restaurants. The industry had 49,600 fewer jobs in July than before the pandemic hit.

The report notes that this sector had lost more than half of its workforce by April 2020 at the height of the pandemic. While it has been recovering as these businesses reopened, the report points to “volatility in the sector” limiting that rebound.

“It’s adding jobs unevenly, but more-or-less on a pretty consistent upswing,” said Laura Dresser, associate director of COWS. “I think people can see this in their communities … Many restaurants are working shorter hours, or doing only takeout or outside seating, so that kind of restructured some of that work.”

Meanwhile, other sectors have lost very few jobs over the course of the pandemic. State employment in manufacturing, information, professional and business services, and trade, transportation and utilities all dropped by 1 percent or less between February 2020 and June of this year.

Some differences were seen between Wisconsin’s pandemic job losses and U.S. industry job losses on a percentage basis. While the country lost 6.1 percent of its information jobs, Wisconsin lost just 0.6 percent. In contrast, the state lost 3.1 percent of its financial activities jobs over the same period while U.S. employment in the sector dropped 0.8 percent.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in July, which is below the national rate of 5.4 percent but still 0.4 percent above the rate from February 2020.

The COWS report also highlights the decline in private and public sector union membership seen in Wisconsin.

The report shows that 8.8 percent of the state’s workforce were union members in 2020.
In line with the national trend, the percentage of Wisconsin workers in unions has declined steadily since the mid-1960s, though it remained above the national level before dropping below in 2014.

The report shows 22.1 percent of the state’s public sector workers and 6.5 percent of private sector employees were union members in 2020.

Report authors say the “deeper decline” in union membership in the state over the past decade was directly caused by two pieces of state policy: Act 10, which restructured public sector unionization in Wisconsin after passing in 2011; and “right-to-work” legislation enacted in 2015 that impacted private sector unions.

“It probably does not surprise that Act 10 had a real impact on public sector unions,” Dresser said. “It wasn’t instant, but it’s a pretty dramatic slide in public sector unionization rates that go from over 40 percent down to 20 percent across a five-year period.”

The unemployment rate for the Valdez-Cordova census area was 5% in July, down from 6% in June and 7.8% in July a year ago, state labor officials said in their latest monthly report.

Statewide, July’s job numbers were up by 17,700 positions or 5.8% from a year ago, but still 30,100 jobs below July 2019 levels.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development said that industries hit hardest last year, as the pandemic spread, had the most new jobs, but few have reached pre-pandemic job levels. Leisure and hospitality were up 5,100 jobs over last July, but still remained 10,800 below July 2019 levels. Trade, transportation and utilities added 5,200 jobs over a year ago, but were 6,000 below 2019 levels.

The only major industry with fewer jobs this July than last year was oil and gas, which lost over 4,000 jobs in 2020, falling to as low as 6,100 late last year, the lowest job numbers in decades.

The big question this year for the state has been when those jobs would begin coming back. The July estimate of 6,800 jobs, along with small upward revisions to previous months’ numbers, suggests modest signs of recovery there, state labor officials said.

The number of local government jobs rose by 600, while remaining 2,900 below July 2019. State government jobs were up by 100 from a year ago and 1,100 down from 2019. Federal employment was higher than both years, by 400 and 700 respectively.

Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held at 6.6 percent in July, while the comparable national rate fell from 5.9% to 5.4%.

Workers taking up gigs at bars, restaurants and hotels are a mainstay of the pandemic job market’s healing.

Why it matters: Since the industry shed the most workers when COVID-19 hit, it has the most room to recover.

  • It’s also been a proxy for the state of America’s reopening — and the hurdles that come along with it, like worker shortages.

By the numbers: For yet another month, the sector delivered the bulk (+380,000) of job gains, with two-thirds of that hiring happening at restaurants and bars.

The big picture: Leisure and hospitality has added a whopping 2.1 million payrolls since the beginning of the year — a big chunk of the total 4 million the economy has gained since then.

  • The sector has 1.7 million fewer jobs than when the pandemic hit.
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

A big part of the comeback story: bosses raising pay like mad to lure the staff they need to meet reopening demand.

  • Wages rose another 1.4% on a monthly basis for non-managers in the sector. (Compare that to the overall 0.4% gain for employees.)

What to watch: How much the sector remains at the pandemic’s mercy — with the presence of vaccines — as infections surge.

  • “The risk is new mask mandates and other COVID restrictions weaken the pace of recovery as returning to the office stalls and caution starts to creep back in,” ING economist James Knightley says.

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.


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.

Image by LuckyLife11 from Pixabay 

August 22, 2021 – SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom released the following statement regarding Friday’s July jobs report, which showed that California added 114,400 new jobs last month, more new jobs than any other state. This follows 71,500 jobs created in June, 94,700 jobs created in May, 102,000 jobs created in April, 132,400 jobs created in March and 156,100 jobs created in February – totaling 671,100 new jobs created this year.

“California continues to lead the nation’s economic recovery, adding 114,400 new jobs in July – more new jobs than any other state, and the fourth time this year of six-figure job gains. We’ll continue to lead with the science and data, prioritizing vaccinations and supporting those workers and small businesses hit hardest by this pandemic, to create the conditions for a robust economic recovery.”

The unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in July 2021 is 5.6 percentage points better than that of July 2020 and is California’s lowest unemployment rate since March 2020. From February 2021 through July 2021, California has added 671,100 total non-farm payroll jobs, which is an average of 111,850 jobs per month for that time period. Of the 2,714,800 jobs lost in March and April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, California has now regained 1,582,900 jobs (58.3 percent). Nine of California’s 11 industry sectors gained jobs in July. Leisure & Hospitality (+56,600) continued to have the state’s largest month-over increase for the sixth straight month thanks to significant increases in Food Services and Drinking Places.
Source: Office of the Governor

Related: California Unemployment Rate Remains at 7.6 Percent for July 2021 – Employers Added 114,400 Nonfarm Payroll Jobs

The New Orleans metro area has added back 22,200 jobs compared to June 2020 when pandemic-related restrictions cut into the job market.

The Crescent City area had 528,600 nonfarm jobs last month, up 4.3% compared to June 2020 but still well short of 588,300 jobs pre-pandemic in June 2019, according to data released Friday by the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

The numbers are not seasonally adjusted and are from data compiled through surveys conducted in mid-June.

Two sectors were still down from June 2020. Financial activities had 28,900 jobs, down 600 jobs over the year but topping 27,900 jobs in June 2019. Construction had 25,200 jobs, down 1,100 over the year and still down 32,700 jobs compared to June 2019.

Leisure and hospitality had 66,100 jobs, up 9,300 jobs over the year but way down compared to 97,000 jobs in June 2019. Manufacturing had 28,700 jobs, up 200 over the year but down compared to 30,200 June 2019. Trade, transportation and utilities, with 103,900 jobs, was up 3,700 over the year but down from 112,500 in June 2019. Education and health services had 102,700 jobs, up 4,200 jobs over the year and topping the more than 101,500 in June 2019. Professional and business services had 71,700 jobs, up 4,500 over the year but down compared to 77,900 in June 2019. Government had 70,800 jobs, up 300 over the year but down from 72,500 jobs in June 2019. Other services had 21,700 jobs, up 1,500 jobs over the year but down compared to 25,000 in June 2019. Information, which includes the motion picture industry, had 5,400 jobs, up 400 jobs over the year but down compared to 6,700 in June 2019. Mining and logging had 3,500 jobs, down 200 over the year and still down compared to 4,400 jobs in June 2019.

The New Orleans metro unemployment rate was 8.9% compared to 8.2% in May and 12.6% in June 2020. Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 7.4%, compared to 10.3% last year. The U.S. unemployment rate was 6.1% compared to 11.2% in June 2020.

OTHER AREAS: Baton Rouge added back 18,300 jobs for 385,100 jobs, still down compared to 411,000 jobs in June 2019. The Lafayette metro area had 192,600 jobs, up 6,800 jobs over the year but still down compared to 205,900 in June 2019. Alexandria had 59,900 jobs, up from 58,300 jobs; Houma-Thibodaux, 82,900 jobs, up from 78,900; Monroe, 74,400 jobs, up from 72,100; Shreveport-Bossier City, 170,800 jobs, up from 163,300; Lake Charles, 93,200 jobs, down from 95,200 jobs; and Hammond, 45,500 jobs, up from 43,600 a year ago.

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Yehyun Kim ::

Corey Gile, a cook with The Whaler’s Inn, makes a drink wearing a mask on Thursday, Aug. 13.

Connecticut has known for months the coronavirus hit its hospitality industry harder than those in most other states.

Now it’s learned things are worse than many thought.

According to revised projections from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Connecticut will have regained — by year’s end — slightly less than 72% of the 26,225 direct hotel industry jobs it lost during the pandemic.

Those 7,400 unfilled jobs is significantly worse than the 5,900-position-gap the AHLA forecast for Connecticut back in May.

“The pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce, wiping out 10 years of hotel job growth,” the association wrote, adding that the hotels and other lodgings are expected to end 2021 down 500,000 jobs compared with 2019 employment levels.

Direct hotel jobs, such as housekeeper and front desk attendants, do not include workers from restaurants, retail operations, tourist attractions and other small businesses supported by the lodging industry.

Only four states — Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York — along with the District of Columbia, are projected to have regained a smaller percentage of direct hotel jobs than Connecticut will have by year’s end.

“We are still facing incredible challenges,” said Ginny Kozlowski, executive director of the Connecticut Hotel and Lodging Association.

Perhaps the biggest, she said, is regaining the full contingent of business travelers who comprised 60% of the customer base at Connecticut hotels, motels and bed and breakfast operations before the pandemic.

Vacation and other leisure-related travel has recovered well this summer, though there still some work to do, Kozlowski said. But business-related travel has lagged considerably. 

For example, are many companies going to permanently limit their conventions, retreats and planning meetings?

Will salespeople who normally visit their customers four or five times a year now do it just once — and stay in touch the rest of the time via online conferencing?

“That’s where we’re not sure,” Kozlowski said.

Another unknown pressing the industry is the coronavirus itself.

Kozlowski praised Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration for Connecticut’s strong effort to promote vaccinations. As of Monday, 71% of residents age 12 and older were fully vaccinated.

And she noted the governor and legislature have been supportive in other ways.

Between the new, two-year state budget and federal coronavirus relief funding, Connecticut officials have dedicated more than $60 million in new resources that will assist tourism promotion and the hospitality sector.

David Lehman, Lamont’s economic development commissioner, said a portion of those resources also will support a new grant program to assist hospitality and related businesses. That program likely will be unveiled early in 2022, he said.

And none of that assistance includes another $150 million the state deposited directly into the unemployment trust fund. The state has borrowed more than $700 million to keep the fund afloat, and the debt is expected to approach or top $1 billion by year’s end. Businesses normally are

Restaurant jobs are still behind, according to the latest numbers.

Ben Roy talks junk about 2020 during the first-ever monthly comedy night at Number Thirty Eight in Five Points. Nov. 19, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

If you work in arts, entertainment or recreation in the metro, you’re probably back to work.

That’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which dropped the latest results from its Current Employment Statistics program last week. The agency generates its numbers on filled jobs from a monthly survey.

In June, it estimates, workers in the statistical area encompassing Denver, Aurora and Lakewood filled 26,900 jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation industries. It’s the first time since COVID-19 arrived that number rose above February 2020, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s (CDLE) benchmark for recovery.

Restaurants jobs are ticking their way back toward pre-pandemic levels, but workers still filled 16 percent fewer positions than they did 18 months ago.


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ryan Gedney, senior economist with the CDLE, said we can use these numbers as a general indicator of industry health in the city. We called him a couple of weeks ago, before June’s jobs numbers came out. When we spoke, he said job losses in both restaurants and arts categories in Denver were responsible for the larger trends he’s been watching statewide (they both fit under a broader “leisure and hospitality” category).

For one thing, he told us, Denver represents about 55 percent of employment in the state. But the losses in these categories were also massive.

“At the state level, leisure and hospitality employment dropped, in April 2020, down to levels not seen since 1992,” he told us.

Improvements here have been nearly as weighty. From January to May, he said, the broader leisure and hospitality category were responsible for 60 percent of all job gains in the state.

“That’s a ton, that’s an incredible amount,” he said.

Here are a few more interesting tidbits from the data drop:

1. Jobs constructing buildings, specifically, took their biggest hit since 2012 during the pandemic. They almost hit February 2020 levels last month, missing the mark by about 300 positions in all.


Source: U.S. Department of Labor

2. Delivery jobs hit an all-time high last year. Gedney said these positions are mostly FexEx and UPS drivers, not necessarily Amazon gig workers, and they usually peak in December during the holiday season. Last year, when we all became very comfortable ordering things instead of going to stores, the number of filled courier and messenger jobs hit an all-time high in the metro.


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. Retail and ambulance jobs experienced pretty strikingly similar patterns last year. They both dipped during the height of the pandemic, but recovered pretty quickly. Retail jobs made a full recovery, and remained higher than the Feb. 2020 benchmark last month. Ambulance jobs still haven’t quite gotten back to their former glory. In June, they still lagged by more than 1,000 filled positions compared to the benchmark.


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

It remains to be seen