Skift Take

Demography is destiny, and the U.S. travel industry needs to start a bigger conversation and indeed efforts around diversity if it wants to remain relevant for the multi-ethnic future.

For the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural world that we live in, diversity is an issue that the travel industry rarely talks about, not in the travel media and not at the various industry conferences. You do see occasional campaigns by some large U.S. airlines and hotel companies, especially in lobbying-heavy Washington, D.C., talking about their diversity hiring credentials and efforts.

But beyond that, the travel industry at large remains unrepresentative of the larger demographic changes happening in America. If this is Obama’s America, we don’t see it in the travel industry.

That much is clear if you dig into the numbers over the years, as we have, taking demographic employment data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, the main U.S. government labor statistics and analysis organization. And it is true across all sectors of travel, from tourism, travel agents, airlines industry, hospitality, and transport.

Even if you buy into the argument that this may be true for a lot of other industry sectors as well, data over a six-year period for various travel sectors we’ve tracked below doesn’t inspire much confidence that the industry is moving in the right direction towards creating a more diverse and representative workforce.

What’s clear is that Hispanics are making a dent on the lower end of the employment sectors in travel, purely because of their increasing numbers across the country. But African-Americans are stuck, and in some cases their employment numbers are actually regressing, as the tables below show.

Among the various sub-sectors in travel, airlines industry, meetings & conventions industry, and travel agents have a particularly acute lack-of-diversity problem.

That’s not to say that all the factors influencing diversity and the efforts to change it can be captured in a few data tables. As BLS itself says in its annual 2012 labor force race and ethnicity report, “these differences reflect a variety of factors, not all of which are measurable. These factors include variations across the groups in educational attainment; the occupations and industries in which the groups work; the geographic areas of the country in which the groups are concentrated, including whether they tend to reside in urban or rural settings; and the degree of discrimination encountered in the workplace.”

But shining a light on it through diversity data across various sectors of travel certainly helps industry realize the extent of the problem. In a future story coming soon, we are going to look into the gender diversity in employment in the travel industry and suffice to say the numbers there don’t look too rosy either.

The full data of 13-different occupation sectors in travel, first for full year 2012, and then occupation wise breakdown over 6 years, from 2007 to 2012, below.

Travel Industry Sector-Wide Employment

By Occupation, Race, And Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity, 2012 Annual Averages (Numbers in Thousands)

Occupation Total employed (in thousands), 2012 White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
Total, 16 years and over 142469 80.6 11.1 5.4 15.4
Lodging Managers 154 75.3 8 13.9 11.5
Meeting, convention, and event planners 127 87.4 8.1 4.2 10.3
Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks 110 72.7 18.4 6.3 18.6
Maids and housekeeping cleaners 1457 74.3 17.2 4.8 43.3
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers 129 93 2.7 2.5 5
Aircraft mechanics and service technicians 153 82.4 7.5 5.4 14.3
Flight attendants 88 80.7 11.8 5.9 10.5
Tour and travel guides 51 86.3 3.6 7.1 15.1
Travel agents 73 86.3 2.5 9.3 4.8
Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks 117 65.8 21.8 10.9 21.5
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs 336 57.1 24.8 13.8 16
Baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges 68 64.7 20.8 13.1 18
Transportation Attendants, except flight attendants 38 NA NA NA NA

 

Data Over Six-Year Period for Various Travel Employment Sectors (2007-2012)

Lodging Managers
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 151 78.1 7.4 13.4 7.7
2008 177 80.8 5.5 12.2 9.1
2009 160 74.4 8.4 14.7 9.4
2010 143 81.8 5.1 11.3 5.8
2011 148 77.7 7 13.4 8.1
2012 154 75.3 8 13.9 11.5
Meeting, convention, and event planners
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 44 NA NA NA NA
2008 55 78.2 14 4.1 6.2
2009 56 82.1 12.9 0.8 8.2
2010 63 87.3 9.4 3 6.8
2011 109 84.4 11.6 2 12.4
2012 127 87.4 8.1 4.2 10.3
Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 118 77.1 13.7 3.6 16.2
2008 120 70 19.1 3.9 9.6
2009 143 74.1 15.9 6.7 13.2
2010 129 73.6 15.3 4.4 11.6
2011 135 67.4 19.6 7.8 16.9
2012 110 72.7 18.4 6.3 18.6
Maids and housekeeping cleaners
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 1427 76.2 17.6 3.3 40.4
2008 1434 75.2 18.1 3.7 40.5
2009 1428 76.2 16.1 4.3 41.7
2010 1407 76 16.3 5 40.8
2011 1419 76.4 16.5 4.5 39.9
2012 1457 74.3 17.2 4.8 43.3
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 123 95.1 0.5 3 2
2008 141 94.3 1.8 2.4 2.5
2009 126 92.1 2.3 1.6 3.9
2010 110 95.5 1 1 6.3
2011 121 94.2 2.9 2.4 3.9
2012 129 93 2.7 2.5 5
Aircraft mechanics and service technicians
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 126 84.9 7.8 2.8 11.7
2008 153 85 5.5 6.4 13.8
2009 142 84.5 7 6.9 15.5
2010 136 82.4 7.1 7.1 15.3
2011 164 85.4 8.9 3.1 17.2
2012 153 82.4 7.5 5.4 14.3
Flight attendants
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 NA NA NA NA NA
2008 NA NA NA NA NA
2009 NA NA NA NA NA
2010 NA NA NA NA NA
2011 88 86.4 9.3 3.2 10.4
2012 88 80.7 11.8 5.9 10.5
Tour and travel guides
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 47 NA NA NA NA
2008 35 NA NA NA NA
2009 29 NA NA NA NA
2010 35 NA NA NA NA
2011 38 NA NA NA NA
2012 51 86.3 3.6 7.1 15.1
Travel agents
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 111 80.2 7.7 9.6 9.1
2008 98 78.6 9.8 10.3 6.4
2009 72 81.9 11.8 3.3 10.7
2010 76 80.3 9.9 6.5 8.7
2011 69 88.4 5.9 5.3 9.5
2012 73 86.3 2.5 9.3 4.8
Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 144 74.3 15.3 3.3 15.3
2008 136 75 14.3 6.5 14.8
2009 111 73.9 16.5 5.5 9
2010 100 67 24 3.9 14.9
2011 99 67.7 23.2 5.8 8.8
2012 117 65.8 21.8 10.9 21.5
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 333 61.6 24.3 12.8 18.8
2008 373 61.4 26.3 10.5 18.9
2009 377 59.2 25.7 12.6 15.3
2010 390 56.9 26.6 13 15.7
2011 342 54.4 26.7 15.6 16
2012 336 57.1 24.8 13.8 16
Baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 60 60 20.3 10 26.7
2008 72 63.9 23.9 8.1 19.9
2009 74 63.5 27.1 5.7 19.8
2010 77 59.7 29.8 6.9 25.8
2011 81 66.7 20.7 9.1 28.4
2012 68 64.7 20.8 13.1 18
Transportation Attendants, including flight attendants
Year Total employed (in thousands) White % Black or African American % Asian % Hispanic or Latino ethnicity %
2007 148 72.3 18.5 7.7 9.8
2008 139 76.3 16.8 3.3 13.1
2009 133 75.2 17.9 4.3 15
2010 110 80 12.2 4.9 16.6
2011 32 (excluding flight attendants) NA NA NA NA
2012 38 (excluding flight attendants) NA NA NA NA

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Tags: labor

Photo Credit: Hotel parking attendants from Towne Park, the nation's largest hospitality service provider. John Pozadzides / Flickr