AHLA report: Hotels add 1,200 jobs in April

U.S. hotels added 1,200 jobs to their payrolls in April, according to the latest government data that shows employment in the industry is still far from pre-pandemic levels.

Total hotel employment stands at about 1.92 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 193,600 fewer workers in the industry than in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit.

“Hotels are doing all they can to attract and retain workers, but the nationwide workforce shortage is preventing our industry from reaching its full potential,” AHLA Interim President and CEO Kevin Carey said in a statement. “AHLA members need help filling open jobs so they can maintain and expand operations. The Department of Homeland Security can provide vital assistance by making available nearly 65,000 additional H-2B visas. Meanwhile, we are urging Congress to pass three important bills to help grow our nation’s workforce: the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act, the H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act and the Closing the Workforce Gap Act.”

Workforce Overview

Hotels continue to offer increased wages, benefits and workplace flexibility to attract and retain workers in the face of a nationwide workforce shortage: Since the pandemic, average hotel wages (+26.7 percent) have increased 24 percent faster than average wages throughout the general economy (+21.5 percent). Despite these increases, there are currently tens of thousands of open hotel jobs in the U.S., according to Indeed.

As of March, there were 8.5 million job openings in the United States and only 6.4 million unemployed people to fill those jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

AHLA Workforce Policy Priorities

AHLA is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to expand the workforce by making available nearly 65,000 additional H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas as soon as possible, under authority Congress gave it as part of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act.

AHLA also urges Congress to pass the following bills to help expand the workforce so hoteliers can maintain and expand their operations:

  • The Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act (S.255/H.R.1325) would allow people seeking asylum at ports of entry to be eligible for work authorizations starting 30 days after they apply for asylum, provided their applications are not frivolous; they are not detained; their identities have been verified; and their names are run through the federal government’s terrorist watch lists. This change would help hotels address critical staffing needs by allowing certain asylum seekers to work as soon as 30 days after applying for asylum. Current law prevents them from legally working for at least six months, forcing them to rely on assistance from local governments and communities.
  • The H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act (H.R. 4708) would expand the H-2A/H-2B labor certification period to three years and permanently authorize the waiver of in-person interviews for returning workers. The HIRE Act would make it easier for qualified workers to secure jobs in fields that are struggling to recruit and retain enough employees to meet demand. By growing the pool of seasonal workers, the bill would give seasonal small business hotels critical staffing relief and facilitate the hotel industry’s continued recovery.
  • The Closing the Workforce Gap Act of 2024 (H.R. 7574) would replace the arbitrary annual cap of 66,000 H-2B guestworker visas with a new, needs-based system for allocating visas.