Leisure and hospitality biggest unemployment factor in new jobs report

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ has released a mostly positive February employment report, though concerns still remain for the leisure and hospitality sector.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 678,000 in February, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.8%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job growth was widespread, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, health care and construction.

“The overall jobs report today may be good economic news for certain sectors, but nearly three quarters (73%) of all jobs still lost due to the pandemic are in leisure & hospitality (L&H),” said Tori Emerson Barnes, EVP, public affairs and policy, U.S. Travel Association. “The sector’s uneven recovery is due to the lack of available workers, and revenues are down due to a lack of inbound international travelers and the deep reduction in business travel and professional events. Today’s job numbers reflect the great need to accelerate the return of business and international inbound travel and the recovery of these L&H positions.”

She continued, “While overall U.S. employment is just 1.4% below 2019 levels, L&H is down a disproportionate 9%. Urgent action is needed by both the administration and Congress to bolster inbound international travel, restore business travel and ensure an even recovery across all sectors.”

Measures before the administration and Congress to boost the travel industry’s recovery:

  • Removing the pre-departure testing requirement for all fully vaccinated inbound international arrivals.
  • Providing emergency support for Brand USA through the passage of the Restoring Brand USA Act.
  • Raising the cap on H-2B visas to ease the absence of labor for the more than one million job openings in the leisure & hospitality industry.
  • Providing targeted, temporary tax credits and deductions to stimulate spending on business travel, live entertainment and in-person events.