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The unexpected growth figures in the latest U.S. jobs report is another sign of the roll that the hotel industry is on as leisure travel is recovering and numerous hotel chains are approaching pre-pandemic metrics.

The hotel industry defied expectations to record higher-than-expected job growth numbers in the latest overall U.S. jobs report, reinforcing confidence that momentum for travel’s recovery continues.

The accommodation sector added 23,000 jobs in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. That’s a huge jump from the 2,000 recorded the previous month. The U.S. added 531,000 jobs in October, a figure that significantly surpassed the previous month’s job growth number — 194,000. The leisure and hospitality sector overall added 164,000 new jobs in October.

The boom in hotel hiring came as several prominent U.S. hotel companies have said recently they’ve experienced strong leisure travel demand. In addition, following Hyatt’s announcement on Thursday that it was in the black during the third quarter, all major hotel U.S. chains have recorded at least one profitable quarter since the start of the pandemic.

However, the unemploment rate in the hotel industry rose from 11 percent to 12.9 percent despite the overall U.S. unemployment rate slightly decreasing from 4.8 to 4.6 percent. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector is still down by 1.4 million jobs or a little more than eight percent off pre-pandemic levels.

“The hospitality industry continues to lag far behind others in terms of recovery,” said Chip Rogers, the CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, about the disappointing figures in the jobs report.

Meanwhile, Hyatt is one of those companies needing to fill a large number of open positions and CEO Mark Hoplamazian believes a future development will help the company do so.

“We do think that that wage rates will be higher. There’s no question about that, (and) that’s not ambiguous at this point,” he said.

Nick Bunker, an economist who works for the employment website Indeed, agrees that the hotel industry needs to raise wages to better attract prospective workers. He also believes it can take steps to alleviate the concerns of job seekers, including as highlighting safety if hotels have issued vaccine mandates.

“If some job seekers have a better sense that there will be less spread at their workplace — be it from their co-workers or consumers — maybe some of these job seekers will be more likely to look at a position at the company.”

UPDATED: This story was updated to include comments from AHLA CEO Chip Rogers and Economist Nick Bunker.

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Tags: hotels, labor

Photo credit: The hostel industry recorded higher than expected job growth for September CyprusVillas / Pixabay

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