The U.S. leisure and hospitality sector in January continued to make strides in recovering from the pandemic disruption, according to a robust U.S. labor market report on Friday.

U.S. employers added 517,000 workers to payrolls in January, the Labor Department said. About 15,000 of those jobs were in travel accommodation, while 99,000 were at restaurants and bars.

Despite hikes in inflation and interest rates and a spate of tech-sector layoffs, job growth in the travel lodging sector remained strong. The month’s performance of 15,000 jobs was better than the 10,000 hotel jobs added in December, as Skift reported.

Yet the travel accommodation sector still has a hill to climb to regain its pre-pandemic employment levels. In January 2023, about 1,618,000 workers were employed in travel accommodations (hotels, motels, casino resorts, and bed and breakfasts). The comparable figure for travel accommodation in January 2019 was 1,945,500, or about 17 percent higher.

“Today’s jobs report—in which 25 percent of all new jobs were added in the leisure and hospitality sector—is further evidence that travel is essential to the U.S. economy,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman.

The leisure and hospitality sector has nearly 2 million open jobs, the association estimated. Tighter rules on immigration and temporary work visas in recent years have helped to constrain the labor supply.

Tags: jobs report, labor, news blog