Skift Take

Though there is evidence of pent-up travel demand as U.S. reopens bit by bit, the monumental job losses for our sector will take a long time to come back to the pre-pandemic level, if ever. This is travel's Great Depression of this century, make no mistake.

That’s the stark reality of an industry that has completely come to a standstill. While there are green shoots as we look forward to summer, the immediate toll on employment in the travel sector in U.S. — and worldwide — is monumental. And will likely be there long term.

The numbers compiled and just released by U.S. Travel Association speak to this: More than half of the 15.8 million travel-related jobs in the U.S. have disappeared since the outbreak of this pandemic — driving an unemployment number (51 percent) that is more than twice the 25 percent rate the country as a whole experienced at the worst of the Great Depression. Travel-related job losses represent 38 percent of all job losses through April—nearly 10 million Americans.

For this Memorial Day holiday weekend, usually the start of a busy summer travel season, travel spending in the U.S. will be just a third of last year’s levels—$4.2 billion this year versus $12.3 billion in 2019, most of it likely to be spent locally and regionally close to where people live.

Roger Dow, CEO of U.S. Travel Association, lays it out clearly: “While the economy is in the midst of a recession, the travel industry is in a depression.” There you have it.


Ask Skift Is the AI Chatbot for the Travel Industry

Go deeper into the business of travel with Skift’s new AI chatbot.

Ask Skift Your Questions

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: employment, labor, US Travel Association

Photo credit: Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C., depicting scenes from the Great Depression in sculpture.

Up Next

Loading next stories