It's positive to see February gains in U.S. jobs in the leisure and hospitality industries. Hotel hiring trends looking to be turning after a bleak winter.
The U.S. February jobs report showed the accommodation sector added about 36,000 jobs, moving the industry unemployment rate up to 16.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Importantly, the report suggests hotel owners are regaining optimism during the pandemic.
The employment report was a significant reversal from January, when
American hotels lost a combined 18,000 jobs.
U.S. accommodation’s 16.5 percent unemployment rate now lags the national unemployment rate average, which dropped to 6.2 percent last month.
“Covid-19 has wiped out ten years of hotel job growth,” the American Hotel & Lodging Association said earlier this week. “Hotels will remain nearly 500,000 jobs below the industry’s pre-pandemic employment level of 2.3 million employees in 2021.”
Many large full-service hotels in urban areas or dependent on international or business travel segments haven’t yet seen enough demand to reopen.
Yet hotels have seen an improvement from the historic low of 48.9 percent hit in April 2020 as pandemic-related restrictions begin to ease.
The accommodation sector’s pick-up in the absolute number of jobs lagged the larger food-and-beverage industry’s pace. Restaurants and bars boosted hiring by 286,000 workers in February. Such growth is often a leading indicator of domestic travel growth.
“While today’s report shows travel industry jobs heading in the right direction, the fact remains that the leisure and hospitality sector’s total jobs are still at just 80 percent of the levels we saw last February—a staggering figure,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow on Friday. “The travel industry lost millions of jobs last year, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all jobs lost.”
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Photo credit: A guest room at the Envision Hotel Boston-Everett. Choice Hotels