General Business

Nearly 500,000 Hotel Jobs Won’t Return by Year’s End

Midway through 2021, a new report and state-by-state job loss breakdown released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) find that while leisure travel is starting to return, the hotel industry’s road to recovery from the pandemic is long and uneven, with urban markets disproportionately impacted. The report found that more than one in five direct hotel operations jobs lost during the pandemic – nearly 500,000 in total – will not have returned by the end of the year.

Industry projections have improved since January with the uptick in leisure travel, but the industry remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

In New Jersey, the hotel and lodging industry had 20,899 total jobs in 2019. This dropped to 15,605 in 2020, but will increase to 19,054 by the end of 2021, according to the report. This means there will be an expected job loss of 1,845 industry jobs since 2019, or an 8.8% loss.

Other key findings from the report include:

  1. Hotel occupancy is projected to drop ten percentage points from 2019 levels
  2. Hotel room revenue will be down $44 billion this year compared to 2019
  3. States and localities will have lost more than $20 billion in unrealized tax revenues from hotels over the past two years

“Despite an uptick in leisure travel, midway through 2021 we’re still seeing that the road to a full recovery for America’s hotels is long and uneven. These findings show the economic devastation still facing hotel markets and underscore the need for targeted relief from Congress for hotel workers and small businesses,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA.

“Hotels and their employees have displayed extraordinary resilience in the face of unprecedented economic challenges, but whether it’s the Save Hotel Jobs Act, fair per diem rates, or expanding the aperture on the Employee Retention Tax Credit, we need Congress’ help on the way to a full recovery,” he said.

COVID-19 is the single worst economic event in the history of the American hotel industry. While the recent uptick in leisure travel for summer is encouraging, business and group travel, the industry’s largest source of revenue, will take significantly longer to recover. Business travel is down and not expected to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023 or 2024. Major events, conventions and business meetings have also already been canceled or postponed until at least 2022.

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