This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the latest employment data, which significantly surpassed expectations and showed the economy added 678,000 jobs in February.

  • With the latest jobs growth, the overall U.S. jobs market remains just 1.4% below February 2019 levels, and 2.1 million jobs away from a full recovery. 

The Leisure & Hospitality (L&H) industry added 179,000 jobs in February, which accounted for 26% of all U.S. jobs growth.

  • This sounds good, but it’s not enough. Out of the 2.1 million jobs left to recover, L&H accounts for a disproportional 1.5 million.

The big picture: L&H accounted for 11% of pre-pandemic employment, but it accounts for a whopping 73% of jobs that remain lost. This share keeps growing each month.

  • While the overall economy is just 1.4% below 2019 levels, L&H is still down by 9%. 

Why it matters: Travel demand is increasing rapidly as we head into the spring and summer with a significantly improved health situation. The L&H industry needs to be back at pre-pandemic levels to support this busy season and influx of travelers.

What’s next: Next week, BLS will release additional job openings data. So far, L&H has a disproportional number of openings and there are simply not enough workers to fill them. 

Our view: An increase in international workers is necessary for our industry to recover.

  • U.S. Travel is working with Congress and the administration release additional H-2B visas, which will be instrumental in facilitating an even recovery across all sectors of travel.

Go deeper: Read our Employment Year in Review report for more background and analysis related to our industry’s workforce.

U.S. Travel Association

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