AHLA predicts hotel industry job losses for 2021

San Francisco
AHLA expects California to end 2021 with 67,169 hospitality jobs lost without direct aid. Photo credit: bluejayphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The American Hotel & Lodging Association has released new data showcasing the ongoing devastating impact of COVID-19 on hotel industry employment, including projected hotel job loss through the end of 2021. 

AHLA emphasized that hotels are the only major hospitality and leisure segment yet to receive direct aid. Without targeted relief from Congress, nationwide, hotels are expected to end 2021 down 500,000 jobs. 

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The top five states projected to end 2021 down the highest number of jobs are:

  1. California: 67,169 jobs lost
  2. Florida: 39,560 jobs lost
  3. New York: 38,028 jobs lost
  4. Nevada: 22,282 jobs lost
  5. Hawaii: 20,029 jobs lost

The release of this data follows the introduction of the Save Hotel Jobs Act, legislation to provide targeted federal relief to the hotel industry workforce including up to three months of full payroll support. AHLA and Unite Here, the largest hospitality workers union in North America, joined forces last week to call on Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act. The bill, introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), aims to support hotel workers until travel returns to pre-pandemic levels. 

Related: AHLA, Unite Here join forces to support Save Hotel Jobs Act

While the recent uptick in leisure travel for spring and summer is encouraging for hotels, business travel—the largest source of hotel revenue—is down 85 percent and is not expected to begin its slow return until the second half of this year. Full recovery is not expected until 2024. 

“While many other hard-hit industries have received targeted federal relief, the hotel industry has not. The Save Hotel Jobs Act will provide critical support to hotels and their workers during this crucial period," said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “We need Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act to help hotels retain and rehire employees until travel demand, especially business travel, begins to come back.”

The leisure and hospitality industry has lost 3.1 million jobs during the pandemic that have yet to return, representing more than a third of all unemployed persons in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate in the accommodation sector specifically remains 330 percent higher than the rest of the economy.

Empty or permanently closed hotels have also had a ripple effect on communities throughout the country, affecting businesses that rely on hotels and their guests, such as restaurants and retail, hotel supply companies and construction. For every 10 people directly employed on a hotel property, hotels support an additional 26 jobs in the community, from restaurants and retail to hotel supply companies and construction, according to a study by Oxford Economics. With hotels expected to end 2021 down 500,000 jobs, based on the pre-pandemic ratio, an additional 1.3 million hotel-supported jobs are in jeopardy this year without additional support from Congress.

This crisis has been especially devastating in urban areas, hurting minority communities. Urban hotels, which are more reliant on business and group travel and more likely to host larger events, ended January down 66 percent in room revenue compared to last year. According to recent reports, New York City has seen one-third of its hotel rooms—more than 42,000—wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 200 hotels closing permanently in the city.