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Last month, 61,000 jobs were lost in the leisure and hospitality sector, according to research from Tourism Economics on behalf of the U.S. Travel Association.
And according to analysis of the latest Department of Labor national jobs report, four out of 10 jobs lost since February 2020 are in the leisure and hospitality industry. This figure is triple the number of the next hardest-hit industry, according to U.S. Travel.
The main takeaway is that hospitality and leisure is suffering disproportionately compared to other industries. In fact, 49,000 jobs were created in the U.S. economy in January, which was the second month in a row that leisure and hospitality lost jobs despite U.S. employment gains.
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.
“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 Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “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. This is an all-hands-on-deck problem, with the government, industry and also the public having important roles to play.”
U.S. Travel pointed to other sobering stats in its assessment that the travel industry’s losses are tied to those of the overall economy. These include the fact that leisure and hospitality’s 39% share of all U.S. employment is three times that of the next most-afflicted industry (government at 13%).
Another sobering fact is that the 23% of lost industry jobs since February 2020 is double that of mining and logging (12%), which is the next most-afflicted industry for job losses.
U.S. Travel also highlighted the fact that the “16% current unemployment rate in leisure and hospitality is almost three times the overall U.S. unemployment rate (6%).”
The organization hopes to accelerate the recovery of the travel industry by working with Congress and the Biden administration to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to provide a third draw for businesses that continue to face difficulties due to COVID-19; to provide grants for impacted sectors in the travel industry; to provide $2.25 billion in EDA grants to promote healthy travel practices; and to provide $17 billion in additional relief for commercial airports and airport concessionaires.
U.S. Travel is also asking the government to consider creating tax incentives that support travel job restoration and helping travel businesses to cover the cost of COVID-19 prevention efforts.
While vaccinations offer hope of a travel rebound, it is imperative that the travel industry receive government support until travel restrictions are lifted, Dow said.
“There are still unknowns about when travel will restart in earnest,” Dow said. “What is fully known is that the pandemic’s effect on travel is continuing to cause devastating economic and employment harm, and the only way to correct that is through aggressive action.”
The DetailsU.S. Travel Association www.ustravel.org