USTA: Travel industry unemployment double national level

Coronavirus travel restrictions sign at airport
The travel industry accounted for 11 percent of all prepandemic employment in the U.S. but has suffered 35 percent of all pandemic-related job losses. Photo credit: rarrarorro/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The latest unemployment figures prepared for the U.S. Travel Association by Tourism Economics paint what the organization calls “a dire picture.” The travel-dependent leisure and hospitality industry is suffering from a 15 percent unemployment rate—nearly double the national level.

Any early signs of a modest recovery for the sector—which accounted for 11 percent of all prepandemic employment in the U.S. but has suffered 35 percent of all pandemic-related job losses—have been effectively extinguished, according to the USTA. The leisure and hospitality industry resurged slightly in September with 413,000 new jobs, but declined precipitously over the past three months, adding only 31,000 jobs in November.

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These figures arrive as Congress continues to negotiate a coronavirus relief package before the end of the year, without which the travel industry’s recovery will be even more challenging. Earlier estimates from Tourism Economics indicated that 50 percent of all direct travel jobs will be lost by the end of December without federal relief—an additional loss of 948,000 jobs and a total loss of 4.5 million direct travel jobs.

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“Every day that passes without relief makes it harder to bring back the jobs that were lost,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. “We know that both sides of the political aisle largely agree on the measures necessary to sustain and restore the travel industry, and we urge lawmakers to pass a relief package without delay before year’s end.

“Not only will a relief package go a long way in protecting vulnerable travel industry jobs, but it’s the will of the American people for Washington to come together and get a deal done.”

The travel industry is asking, at the very least, for a relief package to include measures to enhance and extend the Paycheck Protection Program through the end of 2021, expand eligibility to include 501(c)(6) and quasi-governmental destination marketing organizations and allow for a second draw on loans for the hardest-hit industries.