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U.S. Hospitality Jobs Provided Boost to Employment Growth in June

Skift Take

Many hoteliers have said there’s a talent gap in the hospitality industry and that hotels are missing key skills needed to help them create an enjoyable, twenty-first century guest experience. These job numbers prove hoteliers are responding to demand but time will tell if these new jobs are helping create a more skilled workforce.

— Dan Peltier

The U.S. government is celebrating an optimistic jobs report released today which finds the U.S. gained 287,000 jobs in June 2016, the best single month gain since October 2015, and the hospitality industry is part of that uptick with some of the highest job growth.

With the U.S. in the middle of the summer jobs season, the hospitality industry added 59,000 jobs in June, or 20 percent of all new U.S. jobs created last month, for a total of 15.5 million employees in the sector as of June 30, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These include positions at hotels, restaurants, museum and attractions.

Those 15.5 million employees represent a giant patchwork of jobs that aren’t all directly supported by travelers.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, 8.2 million of those jobs are directly supported by money travelers spend during their trips. That’s a new record for jobs supported by travelers and June was one of the strongest months for jobs gains in the industry since last year.

Since employment recovery began in February 2010, 972,000 U.S. jobs have been added that are directly supported by travelers, and “that’s being delivered primarily by domestic leisure travel,” said David Huether, U.S. Travel’s senior vice president of research.

“One of the reasons for this is because the inflation in travel has come down compared to overall inflation. The decline in fuel prices and airfare and gasoline for cars is making travel more affordable. Travel industry jobs have grown 18 percent faster than the rest of the economy since 2010, so the June numbers are welcome news.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found an average of 27,000 hospitality jobs have been added each month so far in 2016 but that is down from an average of 37,000 a month in 2015. “My hunch is that we won’t be creating 20 to 30,000 new jobs every single month in the near-term because international inbound travel is slowing,” said Huether.

“I’m still pessimistic about that and expect more modest growth during the next few months. With some countries we’ve seen a decline in spending by visitors to the U.S. but other countries have been moderating their spending.”

The 15.5 million jobs for the entire U.S. hospitality industry is a 2.7 percent increase from the 15.08 million in June 2015. That’s a slightly larger increase than the year-over-year percentage growth for all U.S. jobs in June at about 1.7 percent clip. Hotel-specific jobs, which stand at about 15.1 million, increased about two percent year-over-year in June.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association also said it’s pleased with the job numbers, “We’re encouraged that our industry continues to be a driving force in creating jobs and offering long-term careers, advancing community development and boosting economic communities.”

And it appears that economic development from travel is trickling down to employees. Data show that though hospitality employees worked an average of 1.1 fewer hours per week in June 2016 than June 2015 (26 hours), they made about three percent more per week last month than they did a year ago ($387.14). Bear in mind these numbers consider a swath of hospitality workers and aren’t specific to hotels, for example.

“We’re finding that the economy is now being led more so by consumers than business investment and this is helping drive the wage increases,” said Huether.

Below is a chart breaking down the growth in different kinds of jobs within the hospitality industry. Note that the numbers don’t add up to the total 15.5 million jobs as of June 30 as many jobs qualify as part of multiple categories within the hospitality umbrella.

U.S. Hospitality Industry Job Growth

(Numbers are in thousands)

June 2015 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 Percent Growth June 2015/June 2016
Overall Leisure and hospitality 15,089 15,446 15,443 15,502 2.70%
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 2,162.00 2,229.40 2,215.80 2,243.00 3.70%
Performing arts and spectator sports 455.5 477.3 466.7 480.7 5.50%
Museums, historical sites, and similar institutions 152.9 155.3 157.8 159.6 4.30%
Amusements, gambling, and recreation 1,553.60 1,596.80 1,591.30 1,602.70 3.10%
Accommodation (Hotels) and food services 12,926.80 13,216.40 13,227.60 13,258.70 2.50%
Accommodation (Hotels) 1,911.30 1,924.80 1,923.70 1,932.90 1.10%
Food services and drinking places 11,015.50 11,291.60 11,303.90 11,325.80 2.80%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Tags: employees, jobs

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