by Alfredo Ortiz
September marks the 125th Labor Day celebration in the U.S., a federal holiday intended to commemorate the American worker. The festivities also provide ample opportunity to highlight hardworking Americans who apply their professional expertise, skills, and time in the hotel industry.
Hotel businesses belong to the leisure and hospitality sector of the U.S. economy, which according to the latest data, employs more than 16 million people. These include Americans working at hotels and other businesses that often contribute to a traveler’s experience, such as restaurants and other entertainment venues.
Thankfully, this dedicated group of employees, whose industry contributes billions of dollars annually to the economy, is thriving. In 2019, the unemployment rate for those in the leisure and hospitality industry dropped to a level not seen since the 20th century. Moreover, year-over-year wage growth for these positions has increased by more than 3 percent every month since May 2018.
SECURING A STRONG ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
For those Americans looking to jump into the industry, there are more than a million unfilled positions currently available that will provide an opportunity to kick-start a successful career.
But what can AAHOA Members do to secure a strong economic outlook? Well, just as their colleagues of the past helped fight for employment rights and humane working conditions, new policies to bolster the economy can be advocated for in the present.
For example, hotel businesses and their employees could unite against efforts to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Many people employed in the industry already make well-above that level, but that’s because they merit the pay with skill and experience. Forcing businesses to pay entry-level employees high wages not only will discourage hiring young, less-experienced people to begin with, it will negatively impact the bottom line of businesses and, therefore, their employees.
In fact, the macro ramifications are noted in a recent report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The investigation concluded that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour at the federal level would cost the country 1.3 million jobs (up to 3.7 million) and reduce net family income by $9 billion a year.
REDUCING BUDGETARY STRAIN
Other opportunities for hotel industry workers to improve their own economic future is to engage in other areas of public debate – including tax and health care policy.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – legislation enacted last year that has acted as rocket fuel for the economy – is scheduled to expire in 2025. Extending the newly lowered tax rates and other measures that have encouraged business expansion will go a long way to secure a bright economic future. Furthermore, helping to expand the use of new avenues to acquire more affordable health care – including association health plans* (AHPs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) – will reduce budgetary strain on business owners and employees alike.
This month, people from across the country celebrated previous advancements spurred by American workers. But just because we’ve already come a long way doesn’t mean there aren’t more threats to tackle and progress to be made.
Alfredo Ortiz is the president and CEO of the Job Creators Network.
*AAHOA has partnered with UnitedHealthcare to provide members with special insurance pricing and offers for your business and employees. Check out aahoa.com/membership/member-benefits to learn more about how you can offer this AHP in your business today!