The leisure and hospitality sector was among the largest job gainers in the U.S. in April, but the 31,000 jobs it added amounted to a deceleration from March, when it added 40,000 positions to the workforce.

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Credit: L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami

The vast majority of the additions in April were not in hotels, but in food service and drinking establishments, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ monthly jobs report Friday.

“The average wage in the industry now averages $20 an hour, well above minimum wage — a key indicator that the H-2B program, on which many travel businesses rely, does not take jobs from U.S. workers,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of Public Affairs and Policy, U.S. Travel Association. 

Leisure and hospitality, which employed 2.4 percent fewer workers in the U.S. in April than it did in pre-pandemic February 2020, grew at a considerably faster pace during the prior six months when it added 73,000 jobs per month on average.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported all of these figures in its April jobs report on Friday.

There were 16.54 million people employed in leisure and hospitality in April. The unemployment rate in the sector was 5 percent, higher than the the 3.4 percent nationally for non-farm employees.

The air transportation sector in the U.S. added a modest 3,300 jobs, bringing its ranks to 537,400, the report found.

Travel arrangement and reservations services boosted its workforce by 800 jobs, bringing the entire roster of travel agents and similar roles to 179,400.

Travel arrangement and reservation services increased by 10,400 over the previous 12 months, and increased from 178,600 in March 2023 to 179,400 in April 2023.  

Skift’s Dennis Schaal contributed to this report.

Tags: airlines, employment, hotels, jobs, jobs report, restaurants, travel agents